Dionne is boxing clever
Easterhouse sensation is taking her chance at glory
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