Rosie Eccles is constantly changing people's perception of boxing

·4 min read
Rosie Eccles will compete for Team Wales in the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games

Rosie Eccles spent her teenage years sneaking out of the house - but not for parties.

The Newport-born athlete snuck out of the house in the early hours of the morning to box when she was 16 in a bid to overcome the barriers she faced as a woman in the sport.

Eccles changed multiple people's perception of boxing in her career, going on to win silver for Team Wales in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

She said: "I would go to bed in my clothes and would sneak out at sort of three o'clock in the morning and ride my moped to Newport, which took me the best part of an hour.

"I would wheel it down the road obviously because I didn't want anyone to hear me starting it I would train and then I would ride back, get in bed for 15 minutes and then go to school.

"I got caught after a couple of months and I think [my parents] realised I was so stubborn with it I was going to do it anyway so they may as well let me go to a local gym.

"Even that for me was a challenge as I rang up the man who had run the gym for sort of 30 odd years and he said 'I don’t train girls'."

Eccles was adamant and persisted by knocking on the gym door at Chepstow ABC and continuing to ring until she was allowed to watch a session and finally given the chance to join in.

She added: "[The coach] must of seen something as he went from 'I don't train girls' to reading me the riot act basically.

"I couldn't shower because they didn't have a girls changing rooms, I got changed in the kitchen before I went home.

"But then it was like I got multiple promotions because then I was promoted to the back shower, then the back changing room over my time there.

"In my first fight at 16 I won the novice Welsh title. And since then, other girls have gone to the gym and boxed for the club.

"Time's have changed and you've got to stick your teeth in it and grit it out and I think it's important to lead by that example and not act any different."

This summer, Team Wales, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 200 athletes, and having secured her place on the squad, Eccles is looking for medal success.

And with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Eccles hopes sharing her story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.

In 2018, Eccles catapulted women's boxing in Wales with her Commonwealth silver but was unable to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games after several disruptions.

The 25-year-old suffered nerve damage ahead of her Olympic qualifier, losing to welterweight Saadat Dalgatova and was unable to requalify even after the Games were delayed.

Birmingham will be Eccles' final chance to reach the top of her game and bring home the gold after she admitted this would most likely be her final Commonwealth Games appearance.

She said: "I thought maybe I'd feel different because it's my second Games but if anything I feel more hungry than ever.

"Obviously I came away with a silver last time and that sort of stuck with me since and I just really want to go that one better and do everything to make that happen.

"It gives me a level of grit and now I've got European Championships and World Championships behind me.

"This is my last cycle really for Commonwealths and then it's probably Olympic Games and it's strange to be on that other side of the line really.

"I want to finish my career with a Commonwealth gold medal and this is my shot really."

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