SouthlandSport editor Nathan Burdon

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Michelle Blackie: Sport saved me

Michelle Blackie: Sport saved me

Some of Michelle Blackie’s biggest fights have been outside of the boxing ring, but sport has helped her rise above those challenges.

I am Michelle Blackie. I am 30 years old, and a light/bantam weight amateur boxer.

I began training to box when I was 15 years old. I am a born and bred Southlander and the mother of two off-the-track standardbred horses. I have a Bachelor in Sport and Exercise and work as a Personal Trainer.

I’m passionate about personal development. Authenticity. Growing. Healing.

I was diagnosed with the autoimmune hair loss condition Alopecia Areata as a 21-year-old and spent a good decade hiding under a wig. I have recently ditched my wig and begun to learn to live and embrace myself as a bald woman. I have found great connection and love in creating an awareness of the condition that so many of us have chosen to hide in fear.

Michelle Blackie.jpg

I am also passionate about boxing being a tool to transform lives.

I’ve got two favourite sporting memories. I call these “against all odds” stories.

I used to ride sidesaddle as an adolescent and one weekend was traveling to compete at the NZ Champs. Our vehicle got a flat tyre. No-one seemed to want to stop and help. We ended up getting to the showgrounds, unfortunately my horse was having what we will just say was on ‘off’ day. I was pretty frustrated with how the day was going. Then, in my final moment to impress the judge for the NZ title, my saddle literally malfunctioned. I had to stop my horse, explain to the judge what was going on, readjust and continue. The judge, however, was impressed with my integrity and handed me over the title.

My next favourite memory was when I beat a boxer who I thought was impossible to beat. I’d already fought her twice and had lost by decent points margins. There was no-one else to fight so my coach was like ‘go on, just have another go’. I told my parents to not even bother coming to watch because I wasn’t even really going to try, it was just ‘ring time’. I was so relaxed and got in the ring and got the job done. I won the fight by one point and it was honestly the best feeling ever. Not long after that I received a call from the late Tom O'Connor telling me I’d made the team for nationals.

Sport has been a big part of my life since I was very young. I rode horses competitively as a child and teenager before I was captivated by boxing. Boxing was and always will be an important aspect of my life. It provides me with an outlet for my mind, it literally keeps me sane!

Sport makes me feel powerful and fills me with purpose. Boxing also provides me with an income as I work as a personal trainer specializing in boxing specific training. I love the discipline involved and the pressure you need to withstand, to succeed. Being involved in sport allows me to test the very limits of my capabilities, my perseverance and my fortitude.

It has also helped me recover from an eating disorder. You would think being in a weight controlled sport and recovering from an eating disorder could or would be a recipe for disaster, but sport gave me the strength and a reason to take recovery seriously.

I spent many years going back and forth between hospitals and boxing rings, getting frustrated. If I wasn’t an athlete, I’m not so sure if I would have embraced and been committed to recovery. Sport saved me.

Women are the future. Woman have been oppressed and marginalized throughout history and I believe we are now in an era where we can and will succeed. Telling people I am a boxer has garnered me some interesting reactions over the years, ranging from people (mostly men) telling me it’s not a sport for women, or it’s unfeminine. I remember when I first started fighting and females were required to wear white t-shirts under their boxing singlets because showing shoulders was inappropriate.

Women’s boxing has come along way since then but we are still not as visible as we potentially could be.

  • this profile has been made possible through the Women in Sport Murihiku network, a collective of Southlanders motivated to ensuring that women and girls are valued, visible and influential in sport. If you would like to know more about Women in Sport Murihiku, check out their Facebook page.

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