Last Woman Standing: Lesley Sackey

Lesley began training at her local boxing club four years ago in a bid to keep fit. Now she is the Amateur Boxing Association National welterweight women’s champion, and in 2008 she won the gold medal at the European Championships. Lesley hates to lose and relies on power and tactics when she competes.

Lesley says: “As corny as it sounds, boxing chose me. Growing up as a teenager I wasn’t off the rails, but I used to smoke and drink. As I got older I thought, I wanna get fit, but I hated the gym, so my dad’s friend, said, you know, why don’t you try the boxing club on the High Road? And I went and I remember talking to people and they’d be going like four, five times a day, and then I became one of those people!”

Despite missing out on this year’s British ABA National and European boxing championships, Lesley knew that Last Woman Standing would give her the challenge she needed.

During the trip Lesley finds one of the toughest but most rewarding sports to be Water Buffalo Racing, in Indonesia. The environment is intense, and emotions high, which adds to the pressure of competing in the race. Mexico proves to be a hard test on every level and a low point when Lesley struggles with the cold, her health and the local community.

One of the most poignant moments is in the Philippines, when one of the families invites the athletes to their daughter’s wedding ceremony. The bride is surrounded in a circle by her family and friends in a sign of protection and the groom has to break her free.

“It is really symbolic,” Lesley says, “And it is almost as if the groom has to prove that he really wants to marry her and that he is strong enough to fight for her.”

Since returning to the UK, Lesley has been asked to attend the first Female Team GB Olympic 2010 selection camp.

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