Now 23 and a strapping six-footer, Savannah Marshall is no longer the shy teenager her team-mates dubbed The Silent Assassin because of her destructive punching power and dislike of interviews.
The middleweight from Hartlepool, one of Britain’s growing breed of ring tigresses, has blossomed with the sort of confidence and maturity that becoming the nation’s first female world boxing champion can bring. It is a situation she is determined to preserve when she defends her title in the world championships which begin in South Korea on Sunday.
While Marshall admits that she still prefers to let her fists do the talking, she is certainly no dumb belle, having acquired a dozen GCSEs and a BTech in sport, awarded with distinction. Something of a brain boxer, then. So why do it? “To be honest, I’ve never really thought about doing anything else,” she says. “I fell in love with it when I walked into a gym as a 12-year-old kid.
“I’ve never had any qualms about boxing as a female and I’ve never been hurt. It is a great sport and it has taken me to places I could only dream of going to.”
Like Qinhuangdao, in China, where she made history on her 21st birthday two years ago as Britain’s inaugural world champion, and now Korea’s Jeju Island where she is accompanied by flyweight Lisa Whiteside, lightweight Chantelle Cameron and light-welterweight Sandy Ryan from GB Boxing’s Podium Potential squad.
All four will compete for England and will be joined by current European Championship silver medallist, Stacey Copeland, who has been selected by England Boxing at welterweight, along with the Wales team of lightweight Charlene Jones and the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, Lauren Price (middleweight).
With London 2012 gold medallist Nicola Adams and fellow Olympian Natasha Jonas absent following respective shoulder and foot surgery, the spotlight this time will fall squarely on The Silent Assassin.
British best: Seven to watch
Lisa Whiteside (England)
Flyweight from Preston, 29. A former policewoman, she is a four-times ABA champion. Ranked No 2 in the world.
Chantelle Cameron (England)
Lightweight from Northampton, 23. Kick-boxer who took up boxing to improve hand speed. European silver medallist.
Charlene Jones (Wales)
Lightweight from Merlins Bridge, 23. First Welsh woman boxer to compete at a major tournament, at Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games.
Stacey Copeland (England)
Light-welterweight from Manchester, 33. Latecomer to boxing following a football career in England and Sweden. European silver medallist.
Sandy Ryan (England)
Welterweight from Derby, 21. A fast-rising star whose brother Dave won Commonwealth light-welter title. Former European junior silver medallist.
Savannah Marshall (England)
Middleweight from Hartlepool, 23. Britain’s first female world champion. Also winner of Commonwealth Games gold.
Lauren Price (Wales)
Middleweight from Bargoed, 21. Won Commonwealth Games bronze. Was formerly Wales’s Under-19 football captain.
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