AFTER breaking free from an abusive relationship, Gemma found boxing.

Now she is motivating other women to get their gloves on and feel the same benefits she did.

Gemma set up women’s boxing fitness class, Boxing Pretty, after it got her out of a “dark and difficult place” in her personal life.

“With the support of Tony Richards at Llanrumney Phoenix ABC, I took to boxing” she recalls. “Having been a boxing fan since the age of 5.”

“This was the perfect way to relieve some of the anger and stress I felt.”

Llanrumney Phoenix, a community boxing club based in the East of Cardiff, had a growing number of participants – mainly men.

To break down barriers for women, Boxing Pretty began back in 2014.

“I started the class with 6 women participating – we now have over 30 women, per class” adds Gemma.

Now a qualified coach herself, she wants to take Boxing Pretty to other boxing gyms.

Gemma has managed to build an encouraging and vibrant class, while maintaining a traditional boxing club feel.

She explains: “For some women, they want to train but don’t want to actually box and we do not push women into sparring or anything they feel uncomfortable doing.”

The open age sessions also attract girls aged 10-16, an age group close to Gemma’s heart. “It is a challenging time for them,” she explains. “I want to promote a way for them to have a positive attitude about themselves and encourage them to protect themselves.”

Gemma says the class is more like a ‘community’ – inside and outside the gym. It is a space where women don’t feel judged and many turn up body conscious, wanting to lose weight and tone up. The strong women in ‘Boxing Pretty’ fill her with pride.

For Gemma, boxing gave her back her self-esteem.

She remembers: “I started Boxing Pretty on the back of being in a very dark and difficult place.”

“I had no confidence. I had been mentally and physically abused.”

She juggled working and being a single-mum, while pretend she was holding it all together.

“Boxing saved my sanity” she states.

As well as an improved body shape, fitness and new friends, Gemma found mental clarity …

“To get a pair of gloves on, punch something in a safe environment and it be OK to release everything you bottled inside, is such a great feeling.”