April Hunter made history last October when she became the first ever Newcastle-born female professional boxer, but she’s by no means punching above her weight. Confirmed to fight on the much-anticipated Lewis Ritson Utilita Arena card on 4th April, the 24-year-old’s ambition shows no signs of slowing down.
How did you first get into boxing?
I used to play football when I was younger at quite a high level, so I’ve always been sporty. And then I suffered a knee injury when I was 15 which put an end to my footballing career. I had 11 months off, and in that time I put on loads of weight. So eventually I joined the gym just to lose some weight, and I discovered boxing. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Does the knee injury not impact your boxing?
I snapped my ACL, so it could’ve just kept happening if I’d continued to play. But with my boxing I don’t have any problems with my knee. Oh God, touch wood!
Your debut on the Lewis Ritson Utilita Arena card last October was a huge event. What was that experience like?
It was amazing. It was one of the best days of my life. I was fighting quite early, so the doors had only just opened, but there were still a couple of thousand people there so the atmosphere was electric. It was just unreal to make my debut as the first female pro from Newcastle, in Newcastle. I’ve made that history now.
You’re Newcastle’s first female professional boxer…
And a die-hard Newcastle United fan as well!
Who or what inspired you to go professional?
People were watching me at amateur level and just kept coming up and telling me, even when I was only about four or five fights in: “with a bit more seasoning, you’ll make a great pro.” I’ve got heavy hands and I like to have a fight, so the intense pro-style of fighting just suits me better.
You mentioned style – does the style of boxing change much between amateur and professional levels?
Yeah, massively. They’re two totally different sports to be honest, they even score differently.
How has being from the Newcastle influenced your career so far?
I think I’m really lucky that I’m from Newcastle. If you look at other fighters this early in their career, they don’t get on these big shows until later on. I’m only going to be four professional fights in, and already two of them will be Matchroom shows at the Utilita Arena in front of thousands.
What are some of the biggest stereotypes about being a female professional boxer?
I think as a society we’re pushing past that now – especially in this country, maybe not in others. If you look at the UFC, they’re leaps and bounds ahead of women’s boxing. The female UFC fighters have got more than a million followers on social media, and they’re getting a great paycheque, so I think that is doing women’s boxing a favour. It’s thriving. And with boxers like Katie Taylor, Savannah Marshall and now Terri Harper, the future looks bright.
You’re so confident in your own ability. Is this self-belief something you’ve always had?
I might be confident but I’m still human – everyone gets nervous, you’ve just to learn how to channel that in the right way and hope it all pans out alright in the ring.
How do you prepare for each fight?
I just train hard, make sure I haven’t left any stone unturned, and make sure my weight’s good. As long as I know I’ve done all that, I can go in there on fight night and know that there’s nothing else I could’ve done. That’s what gives me confidence.
What song is always on your workout playlist?
I’ve got a few! As an amateur, I always used to come out to Kanye West’s All Of The Lights on a fight night. I also like some grime music, Bugzy Malone gets me into the zone. I’m changing my fight song for this next fight though. It’s called One Day, which is a really upbeat song about Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream speech with a lot of saxophone.
Who or what most inspires you?
I’d have to say Katie Taylor. Her documentary was really inspiring. Also boxers like Floyd Mayweather, he’s so clever. I want to win world titles, but I also want to make a better life for myself. Hopefully women’s boxing will thrive, and I’ll be here in 10 to 15 years time retired, well off, having changed mine and my family’s life.
What do you love most about boxing?
I love everything about training. Getting up, going to the gym, and I love how boxing makes me feel. You’ve got to be disciplined – watching what you eat, living right, not drinking, smoking, not going out with your friends – but I actually enjoy that because it gives me routine and keeps me focused.
Which gym are you at?
I’m at Wallsend Boxing Academy, and I train with some great boxers like Joe Laws, Tommy Hodgson and Jamie Bates who’s a world-level kickboxer but he’s boxing now. It’s probably the best gym up here, asides from Fannan’s Gym in Hartlepool where Lewis Ritson and Tommy Patrick Ward train.
What is your ultimate career goal?
World champion. Millionaire. That’s about it!
Tickets for April’s fight at the Utilita Arena, Newcastle on Saturday 4th April are on sale now at matchroomboxing.com