Boxing and dancing– the two are worlds apart, but for Kimberley Gittens they are a part of her world. The 24-year-old was born to perform–and the reigning national boxing champion puts on a show every time she steps into the ring.
“I was a dancer before I was a boxer. I do modern contemporary dancing; it keeps me very fit and limber,” she said.
Admitting that initially she had no interest in boxing as she was not sports-oriented, she said when she first got into the ring she knew she had made the right choice. “I had a calling to it. I was never athletic in school; I have tried netball before but it was not for me. Boxing is actually my one true calling and I can’t see myself playing another sport,” she said.
Since then Kimberley has been making a name for herself in the regional and international arena- in fact, she is undefeated in the Caribbean, an accomplishment which she says motivates her.
But dominating a male-dominated sport was no small task; she had to fight her way. She noted that boxing was a combative sport and females tend to shy away from it, but it was a sport that helped to build self-confidence and self-defense.
She pointed out that she was not your typical female boxer but was still perceived by many as such, adding that some men were intimidated by female boxers and would give her a hard time in the ring. “Men should see that we are strong women, that we aren’t intimidated by a man. We’re not weak or fragile and boxing helps to keep that confidence level up,” she said.
Kimberley said boxing has taken her far in life, giving her the opportunity to compete at many tournaments throughout the world.
“I have come a long way. My second bout was the World Games in 2010; I was the only female throughout the Caribbean who scored a point,” she said, “I attended two Continental Championships, one in Canada where I won silver, and I got bronze in the other. I also went went to Korea and Mongolia for the Asian Championships. I had a number 10 world ranking in the welterweight division at number 10,and I’m also undefeated regionally.”
She noted that she had a lot of improvements to make as she prepared for upcoming championships. “I’m okay in the Continental but I want to do extremely well in the Commonwealth 2018 and the Central American and Caribbean Games. I would also love for Barbados to have a 2020 Olympic team,” she said.
Kimberley, who currently box for the Defence Sports Programme where she won boxer of the year, said it felt good to know that a female was competing in a male-dominated sport, and winning.
She pointed out that her family and friends played an extensive role in keeping her motivated. “My family supports me. When I started out my mother and grandmother used to be scared of me getting seriously injured, but overtime they began to trust my talent and now they are my support system,” Kimberley said.
She said boxing was not a popular sport among women in Barbados but she hoped that with her continued success, it would inspire more women to get involved.
“I want to pave a way for the upcoming Barbadian female boxers. I want women to know it’s okay to be involved in this sport, and to continue with it even when you feel to quit,” she said, “It may seem like you’re not going anywhere but trust me, people’s eyes are on you.”