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An Interview with Joanne Salley

Joanne Salley, ex Miss Northern Ireland, artist, teacher and one tough cookie, will be taking part in a white collar boxing match between old Etonians and old Harrovians on the 19th September. Here she talks about training, women in boxing and her incredible reasons for taking on the challenge. For more information, visit Etonvsharrow

I decided to participate in the boxing match when I read that every 20 minutes someone is diagnosed with blood cancer and only 30% of people find a matching donor for their family. I felt compelled to support Delete Blood Cancer in the only way I know how: by donating my time and effort to such a great cause.


Every year for the last 17 years I have taken part in two fund raising challenges for various charities, from marathons to mountain climbs and long distance cycling. Venturing outside of my comfort zone and helping others is something, which gives me focus and purpose.

Boxing is an intense discipline that requires concentration and focus; I find the worries of the day just disappear when I’m flying around the ring like a butterfly. I first found myself in a ring adorned with headgear and a mouth guard in Barcelona in 2008 for a boxing training weekend, it was here I discovered that I was tough enough to hold my own in the ring, and that I actually enjoyed the thrill and excitement of such a physical sport.

My trainer tells me that some people are great on the pads, on the bag and with the fitness – but run a mile from the actual ring. That was when I realized the mental discipline needed, not only the physical.

Female Boxing has been around since the 1904 Olympics, so it is not a sport new to women, but there is still some apprehension surrounding it. The most difficult thing I have found is dealing with this apprehension when I say I am training and taking part in a white-collar boxing match – I guess it is not what would be expected from an ex Miss Northern Ireland – but I love sport, I am very competitive and I thrive on a challenge.


Unlike any other challenge I have ever done this is the first time that missing a training session may actually have a profound impact. I started training a month ago and I quickly realized I would have to make sacrifices until the 19th September 2014.

Committing to such an intense challenge requires early nights, training twice a day and a strict diet (not even a glass of wine in the evenings!). The impact on my body has been fascinating; I even woke myself up in the middle of the night recently throwing an upper cut into the air! The 19th September 2014 is imprinted on my brain and every day has a consequence.

I’m thankful for my stamina, relentless drive and indeed my stubbornness; the support of KX has been fundamental to keeping me on this path, when the alarm jolts me from slumber and I roll over aware of every aching muscle, I only have to think of the people who believe in me. It’s tough to train solo, but having expert eyes making sure posture, position and my routine is perfect, fuels confidence and promotes growth.

Every day I am stronger, fitter, faster and closer to the 19th September. Everyday I’m closer to being ready to walk into the ring as a boxer fighting for a worthy cause.



I thank KX for believing in the charity and for believing in me.

If you would like to sponsor Delete Blood Cancer click here, and if you would like to attend the EtonvsHarrow boxing match, please click here



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