Ennis boxer Keisha Attewell will be aiming to become a National Champion on Saturday evening.
The Clare woman faces a difficult challenge as standing opposite her inside the ring will be three time National Champion Kaci Rock, whose father Jim fought professionally and was the only man to hold Irish titles in four different weight classes. Attewell and Rock meet in the 66kg final in Dublin on Saturday evening with all 22 National Elite Championship finals being broadcast live on TG4.
The 19-year-old is relaxed heading in to the bout as she has previously trained with her Wicklow opponent.
“I’m feeling confident. I’ve been training away everyday and doing a lot of work to get ready for these Championships so I’m feeling good. I’ve sparred her (Kaci Rock) before. She likes to come in close and let off hooks so I know how to approach this fight. I’m practicing something different to try and trouble her but I can’t say too much on that.”
Keisha’s two siblings, Alannah (16) and Tia (15) are also keen boxers. The trio made history in 2017 when they all reached National underage finals.
The talented boxer previously fought out of Ennis BC and believes the club provided her with the tools needed to fight at a high level.
“It is a great club to start off with. We stayed with the club for about three years and the trainers were very good to us. They gave me a great starting point to go on and continue to try and win national titles so they were very good to us.”
Keisha has not been able to fight in competitions since COVID-19 hit Irish shores with boxing being one of the sports most damaged by the pandemic. Irish Olympians were allowed to train for Tokyo but many others were not permitted to go inside the ropes until these National Elite Championships.
The Ennis woman admits it has been challenging for her to keep training and stay motivated during the past 19 months.
“It was early 2020 when I was last able to compete so that is a long time. I just kept training and working on improving myself. I did train in the UK briefly which helped but it’s been hard. It’s hard to keep fit all the time especially when I didn’t know when I would be competing.”
She started boxing seven years ago and admits she “always had an interest in the sport.” Keisha believes watching Katie Taylor and Kellie Harrington win Olympic gold medals and enjoy success inside the ropes gave her further encouragement to lace up a pair of gloves.
“When I was aged seven, I asked for a boxing set so it is something that has always appealed to me. I started then aged 12. Watching Katie (Taylor) and Kellie (Harrington) has made it seem a bit more possible for me to fight and compete at a high level. Katie has been getting places for years so it’s great to see. I’ve met Kellie once and she was lovely so it was fantastic for her to win a gold medal at the Olympics. I got up to watch her fight and she did very well against a tough opponent.”
Keisha believes women’s boxing is in a healthy place with the National Championships an ideal platform for her to showcase her talent.
“Women’s boxing seems to be coming on a lot more now. There seems to be more interest in it and more taking part.
“Everyone likes to keep an eye on the National Championships so I’m looking forward to stepping out and fighting. Kellie Harrington and every big Irish boxer has fought at these Championships so it’s nice for me to be there.”
The Ennis woman is expecting a tight contest once the bell rings on Saturday evening.
“It is going to be a close fight. Hopefully people can tune in to TG4 to watch because I think that we are evenly matched so it should be worth watching.”
by Ivan Smyth