Dionne is box­ing clever

Easter­house sen­sa­tion is tak­ing her chance at glory

Evening Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY CAT COCHRANE

TEENAGE box­ing sen­sa­tion Dionne Pol­land says “it’s go­ing to be a good one” when she pulls on the gloves for her in­ter­na­tional de­but fight at the week­end.

As the first ever boxer from Easter­house to rep­re­sent Scotland, the Evening Times caught up with the 17-yearold in train­ing for the GB Three Na­tions Cham­pi­onships in Cardiff.

Dionne’s achievemen­t is all the more spe­cial con­sid­er­ing she stepped into a train­ing ring for the first time less than 18 month ago.

Be­tween spar­ring at Easter­house Phoenix Box­ing Club, mod­est Dionne re­calls that first ex­pe­ri­ence. “I came to the club as I gave up foot­ball and wanted to get fit­ter,” she says. “I saw the fight­ing side of things and wanted to take a chance with it.”

That de­ci­sion led to Dionne’s nat­u­ral box­ing tal­ent be­ing spot­ted al­most im­me­di­ately. Hav­ing seen a lot of young­sters come and go in the early days of try­ing out the sport, coach David Wark says: “The first or sec­ond night Dionne was in, I spent a bit of time with her and I no­ticed that it just clicked and she re­ally picked up the tech­ni­cal things we were show­ing her.”

Within months David and fel­low coach Mark Tait knew the young­ster was turn­ing into a spe­cial tal­ent ready to step up from bag punch­ing and gym spar­ring. At that point their big­gest chal­lenge was find­ing an op­po­nent who was close to Dionne’s age and weight, due to the sport’s strict rules at ju­nior level.

In Septem­ber last year, after the wait, Dionne came up against her first op­po­nent. She says: “It was a tough one as she was a more ex­pe­ri­enced girl and she was a lit­tle bit heav­ier than me. She came in and put me un­der a lot of pres­sure. I just had to keep to what I’d trained to do.”

Dionne won the bout in a split de­ci­sion and made her first mark on the sport. In the months since, she’s com­peted in five fur­ther fights at novice and Scot­tish na­tional ju­nior level.

It was these per­for­mances that at­tracted the at­ten­tion of Scotland’s na­tional choices who in­vited the young­ster to com­pete in as­sess­ments for the up­com­ing Three Na­tions Cham­pi­onships, 2-4th May.

Mark has no prob­lem big­ging Dionne up as a young hero to her com­mu­nity, as he says: “If the Scotland team are tak­ing her to Cardiff to fight after only a mat­ter of months it just proves Dionne’s po­ten­tial. They could’ve taken more ex­pe­ri­enced girls down there so that shows it’s not just us who see it.”

With no his­tory of box­ing in her blood, Dionne ad­mits her fam­ily was a bit shocked when she told them she was tak­ing up the sport. Speak­ing of ‘Su­per­gran’ Janey’s re­ac­tion be­fore her the first fight, she says: “She was a bit ner­vous to see me go­ing up as she was scared in case I got hurt.”

“But ev­ery­one has been sup­port­ive since I wanted to take my chance.”

Asked if they’ll be cheer­ing her on in Cardiff, she smiles: “No they’ll be on hol­i­day… but it was al­ready booked up.”

While Dionne’s fam­ily wait in the sun for news of her bouts in the Welsh cap­i­tal, David and Mark will be at ring­side cheer­ing on their home­grown star­let.

With roots so im­por­tant to the club and com­mu­nity, David says: “No­body from Easter­house has ever boxed for Scotland. This area has been syn­ony­mous with so much neg­a­tiv­ity. How many peo­ple can you say look at that fa­mous per­son from Easter­house?”

When Dionne turns 18-year-old in Oc­to­ber, a new pool of po­ten­tial op­po­nents will open up as she’ll move up from ju­nior level and be el­i­gi­ble to fight box­ers up to the age of 40.

Hope­fully through this we can pro­duce more box­ers who can fol­low in Dionne’s foot­steps. It’s just the start.”

With a bright fu­ture ahead and a maturity that be­trays her young years, Dionne’s isn’t get­ting car­ried away with be­ing tagged a lo­cal hero just yet. “In the fu­ture I’d like to be a pro­fes­sional boxer,” she says. “but at the mo­ment I just wanted to fo­cus and see how far I can go.”

As she gets ready to take on an­other spar­ring ses­sion Dionne leaves left us some en­cour­age­ment to other young women think­ing about get­ting in­volved in the sport.

“My ad­vice to other girls who want to try out box­ing is just don’t be afraid to get hit. Your coach isn’t go­ing to put you in if you’re not ready. But if you want to try it, just take the chance.”

“Ev­ery­one has been sup­port­ive... I wanted to take my chance.”

Dionne Pol­land, above, with coaches David Wark, left, and Mark Tait, and above left and right, in the ring at the club

PIC­TURES: COLIN MEARNS

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