images: Mkuu Amani
How a warm welcome inspired woman with a disability to achieve coach status.
Courtesy of the many hours spent pounding the punchbag at her local gym Wendy Hurst was no stranger to boxing when she joined Warley Boxing Club in Olbury after finding their details online, messaging the club via their facebook page and receiving a welcoming reply.
As a woman with a progressive disability and using a wheelchair Wendy was all too aware of the challenges that she was likely to face when seeking to fulfil her sporting aspirations.
Wheelchair Tennis, long distance wheeling, sky diving and skiing are just some of the sports that Wendy Hurst had already tried, and written about in her popular blog ‘Is This The Wheel Life?’
And whilst she may have enjoyed the other disciplines to a point, with the sport of boxing she really made a connection.
Today, under the guidance of former boxer Richard Heritage and Head Coach John Nash, Wendy not only trains regularly at the club but has achieved the Level One Coaching Award enabling her to join the club’s coaching staff and train other boxers.
It’s a magnificent achievement but not one that was beyond Wendy’s aspirations when she joined the club. Her intention during the first few months of training was not just to improve her strength and conditioning but also to become a better, much more skilled boxer.
At a recent training session we asked Wendy to tell us about her experiences.
Recalling the days when she first began to train alone at her local gym Wendy said, “I just thought to myself, ‘I’m quite good at this and I quite enjoy it. I wonder if wheelchair boxing is a thing.
“I just decided,” she continued, ” to google my local boxing club and message them to say ‘I’m disabled, can I have a go?’ and they said ‘Yes, come down and we’ll see what we can do – and they haven’t been able to get rid of me yet.”
On the benefits of taking up the sport Wendy said, “What really surprised me is that my doctors have always told me that my condition is only ever going to get worse but doing this I can see myself that I’ve improved so much. My accuracy, my stamina – even just my balance with being to hold myself still in my chair has improved no end.
“I don’t know if it’s because I’m focusing on something else rather than just myself. But I find it really useful to have that focus and it’s something to do that’s a bit fun rather than having to think, this is physiotherapy or something like that. It’s something to do that I enjoy and if it helps then all the better.”
Wendy may be the first wheelchair user in the UK to have achieved the coaching award. She’s certainly the first to join the coaching staff at the club and she’ll now be working closely with the club’s management to further improve access to the club’s facilities in ways that will benefit other people with disabilities.
If you are interested in boxing and would like to take up the sport Warley Amateur Boxing Club would love to hear from you.
You’ll find more details on their facebook page.