Blackie marks comeback to ring with big win
Invercargill boxer Michelle Blackie made a triumphant return to the ring on Saturday night, after nearly a year away from the sport.
Blackie had far too much experience and class for BT Boxing Gym clubmate, Carlie Flavell, easing to a dominant 17-1 victory.
It was an emotional fight for Blackie, who was making a comeback after being diagnosed with spondylosis, a spinal condition, last November.
Blackie fought through the pain barrier all last year, and said she was in so much agony she often had to be carried out of the ring following a bout.
After being assessed by three doctors, it was finally discovered she had stress fractures down both sides of the third lumbar vertebrae.
Blackie will have to live with spondylosis for the rest of her life, and said it was a matter of managing the injury during her career.
Not being able to box for 11 months had been extremely tough for Blackie and she was delighted to be competing again.
"I'm glad to be back in the ring. It's my life," she told The Southland Times.
"It's a good focus for me. It's something to focus on," said the 24-year-old, who took up boxing eight years ago at high school.
Last year was her first full season in the sport, and Blackie admitted she loved the competitive challenge boxing gave her.
"I had a few years out, but I could never stay away from it. I love it too much."
She has fought 13 bouts and rates competing at last year's national championships against Auckland's Sunita Lallu as one of her biggest highlights.
Women's boxing is on the rise in Southland, with female numbers never having been higher.
The sport has experienced a boost through the addition of women's boxing to the Olympics for the first time this year.
Blackie said she was inspired by the efforts of Siona Fernandes, a friend who fought for New Zealand at the Olympics, and she wanted to be at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
"I think I've got the mental strength to get myself there.
"I just need more fights. We need to be going to the North Island and fighting those girls. There's not enough money in the sport."
Blackie, who is studying sport and exercise at the Southern Institute of Technology, is a dedicated trainer, who confessed she preferred a quiet night in to the party scene.
"I don't go out in the weekends. I don't drink. I sit at home on Saturday nights and fold my washing.
"For me it's a big sacrifice but it's always worth it. When you get out there and put on a good show . . . that sacrifice is worth it."
Blackie's trainer Brendan Thomas believed she had a promising future in front of her, if she could keep on top of her back troubles.
"Next year will be a big year for her. With her health, we've taken things nice and easy [this year].
"There's definitely pathways for women now with the Olympics."
- © Fairfax NZ News