Boxing: Girls aiming to be a knockout in the ring
MEET the law student with the stellar defence.
Kirsty Holmes, aged 18, is the first female boxer to emerge in 32 years of Queensberry ABC, and she announced herself with a debut victory last week.
The mobile Holmes danced around the ring as she teased Tamworth bruiser Charlotte McLeod in a 56kg flyweight bout and won on a majority verdict.
The Abbey Hulton fighter is now preparing to enter the British novice championships over the winter, along with her friend and club-mate Danielle Hales.
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Accountant Hales, aged 24, should have had her first competitive fight by then, in the 69kg division and probably in a club show on December 14.
And the pair, who both have a background in kick-boxing and took up the gloves in September, are tipped to help finally open the floodgates for lady contenders in Stoke-on-Trent.
"We are both quite girly girls and a few people are shocked when we say we are boxing," said Holmes.
"When I turned up for my first fight, the girl was quite big and I thought she could knock my head clean off if she made contact.
"I was terrified, but at the same time looking forward to the challenge.
"She was a good fighter and it wasn't exactly one-sided, but I have long arms and she couldn't get the reach she needed.
"She was trying to push her way in and I had to box clever.
"My friends don't want me to walk into college with a black eye, but neither do I. It's great fun and it's getting me really, really fit as well.
"Everyone has been very supportive and I wouldn't be surprised if there were more girls taking up the sport in the next few months."
Holmes and Hales, both formerly of Mad Dogs martial arts club, were inspired to get back into contact sport after watching the Olympics in the summer.
Nicola Adams had proven girl boxers did not have to be butch giants when she won a flyweight gold medal in London.
Holmes added: "I wanted to get back into fighting, but do something different than kick-boxing. When I saw people like Nicola Adams at the Olympics it pricked my interest.
"I was made welcome straight away and although at first I thought it might just be a hobby to stay in shape I soon couldn't wait for my first proper fight."
The duo arrived at Queensberry's Fight Factory headquarters, in Longton, in September and were soon sparring against the boys in their weight range.
Coach Mark Griffiths said: "I've been the club since it was founded in 1980 and this is a landmark moment for us. We're really pleased to have both Kirsty and Danielle on board.
"They are not as strong as some of the lads, but they are quick on their feet and don't pull any punches.
"I was proud to be in Kirsty's corner in her first fight and delighted that she started off with a win. I'm sure it will be the first of many."
Queensberry attracts more than 50 boxers to their training sessions and Griffiths hopes more girls will start attending beginners' classes on Monday and Friday evenings.
He added: "We've had girls come down before who have not really stuck at it, but there seems to have been a sea change after the Olympics.
"Kirsty and Danielle both look like superb prospects, but we will make sure they walk before they run."