Marianne Marston

Marianne Marston

The British featherweight boxer talks about her dream of getting more girls into boxing.

Raise Your Game: How did you first get involved in boxing?

Marianne Marston: A few years ago I was quite ill. It turned out that it was celiac disease and it was down to a simple matter of diet to control it. Once I found out what was wrong and I had it under control, I decided to get fit. At my local gym there was a trainer there who had a poster on the wall about him being a boxing trainer and it inspired me. I had to do some kind of sport. I couldn't just run on a treadmill. I had to have a goal to strive towards.


Marianne Marston

Golden girl

31 October 1973

Old Coste, Norfolk


Super Bantamweight/ featherweight


  • Featherweight champion - Judgement day event, London, 30th September 2009

RYG: As a male-dominated sport, what attracted you to boxing?

MM: I was always quite an angry person and I felt that boxing would be a good way to get my frustrations out. My trainer was right, it is! It really works for me. I'm a lot calmer in myself and I have been for years now. I used to be very angry and a lot of the time that was making me physically ill just from bottling it up, the frustration and the tension you constantly manufacture.

RYG: How has the discipline of boxing helped you?

MM: Knowing that you're capable of doing quite a lot of damage to somebody enables you to rise above and walk away from situations. You have no need to prove yourself because you prove yourself every day for three hours in the gym and any anger or frustrations you've got, you take it out in the ring.

RYG: What does discipline mean to you?

MM: Even on the days when you haven't had a good night's sleep or you don't feel particularly great, it's getting up on those days and still doing it. It's knowing that if you want to achieve, this is what you have to do.

RYG: How important is it for you to have a healthy lifestyle?

MM: It's very important. With the celiac disease I already had to change my diet and there's so much I can't have. Junk food and fast food is virtually out of the question for me because of the diet I have to stick to, so in a sense it's quite easy, but I do love food. I spend a great deal of time creating things that are great to eat but at the same time are very healthy and it's possible to do that. Healthy doesn't have to be boring!

RYG: Why should girls and young ladies stay healthy and live an active lifestyle?

MM: For girls there are issues surrounding body image which are pushed at you from magazines and all the rest of it. Eating the wrong things or not exercising may mean that you resort to diets and faddy weight control methods which are unnecessary and really bad for your health. Eating sensibly means that you'll keep a good body shape and you won't have to worry about crash dieting. It doesn't mean that you can't have a little bit of what you like. I have a hot chocolate or even a bit if chocolate at night (laughs) to stop me craving it. It's about having a little bit of what you like and a little bit of exercise.

RYG: What would be a typical day's training?

MM: I run four days a week. Two of those days will be a three mile run which includes a mile of warming up followed by a mile of 100m sprints, jog backs and a mile to cool down. Two days will be six mile runs of steady running and every day I do a full training routine which will be a warm up, three rounds of skipping, five rounds on the heavy bag and maybe some pads work.

I also do floor work which includes sit-ups and push-ups. There's shadow boxing and some days I might do light weights rather than heavy weights. A couple of days a week I'm sparring four rounds because, even though you can train and do the pads and the bags work, there's nothing that can prepare you for being in the ring. There's no other way to learn to box.

RYG: Students often find that they have difficulties managing their normal school day and their afterschool activities. How important is it for you to set a routine?

MM: Time management is important, especially when you're training three times a day. You've also got to make sure you eat at the right times so that you're not eating just before training and you're getting the right nutrition at the right times for your body.

RYG: Why is it important to ensure you get the right amount of rest?

MM: At the weekend the only thing I do is a six mile run and on Sunday I rest. That's really important because all the training you do is actually damaging your muscles, that's how they get built, and in order for that to work you have to have the rest to allow them time to heal.

RYG: How do you deal with the pressure or the nerves before a big fight?

MM: Different people deal with it in different ways. I go very quiet inside myself and just try and do things like reading or listening to music. It's choosing something that will take your mind off and stop you focusing on what you're going to do. It sounds silly, because you should really be thinking about your plan of attack, but I find it better not to think about it at all if possible.

RYG: What sort of music motivates you ahead of a fight?

MM: It really depends on my mood and the tempo I want to set for the training. I've got everything from CC Music Factory to Eminem to Sepultura on my MP3 player. I find that a lower tempo of music helps me control my heart rate. If I have high tempo music, my heart rate tends to race above and beyond what's necessary for the training.

RYG: How important is the inclusion of women's boxing in London 2012 Olympics to you?

MM: I think it's absolutely wonderful that it's going to be included in 2012 and I think, certainly for boxers in Britain, it's a great boost. There are so few professional female boxers in Britain. There are a great deal more amateur boxers and hopefully, if they do well in 2012, some of those women will be looking to turn professional and we'll draw some more women into the sport. For a sport to progress, and for every individual in that sport to progress, it requires more people for them to be able to compete against.

RYG: A lot of young ladies are often put off because they think that boxers are muscle bound people, but you have a normal, healthy shape and you're not overly muscular. What would you say to those girls?

MM: When people think of boxing they tend to think of the heavyweights and they are huge and muscular, but boxing is actually about speed and agility, especially at the lighter weights. People don't want to be muscle bound and these days that is recognised. It's more about flexibility, agility and speed. You don't need to be there hefting the big weights every day!

RYG: How would you encourage more young ladies to get involved in boxing?

MM: I would hope that the Olympics will show a lot of girls that you don't have to be a tomboy or an angry young woman to take part. It's a sport of skill. It's very physical but it's like playing chess mentally when you're in the ring. There's a lot of strategy and a lot of thought that goes into it. It's a great way to keep fit and it's a great sport for confidence too.

RYG: What has boxing given you?

MM: It's given me confidence and, it sounds odd, but it's given me peace. I'm a lot more relaxed than I used to be. I'm a lot calmer and that kind of serenity is quite hard to find.

RYG: And finally, if you could give a piece of advice to any young ladies looking up at you as a positive sporting role model, what would that advice be?

MM: If you find something you like, stick to it no matter what anybody says, because if you love it it'll be worth it.

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