Women’s boxing trailblazer to be honoured for pioneering work

HOOKED: Jamie Johnson continues to box and is deeply involved elsewhere in the sport

Tunbridge Wells-based champion boxer Jamie Johnson is set to be honoured by the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame for her pioneering work in women’s boxing in the United Kingdom.

While many residents are familiar with Cllr Jamie Johnson, a Tunbridge Wells Borough Councillor for Broadwater (Lib Dem), Jamie ‘Rocky’ Johnson is a British titleholder and stalwart in women’s boxing.

A diminutive 5ft 2, Jamie began fighting at the age of 22 after hearing a radio advert for a boxing gym in London’s East End that accepted women.

“My first match was only two months after I started to train,” Jamie said. “I really wasn’t fit enough then and I’d been living hard… They put me up against a 13-stone German girl called Dianne. I was only eight stone and she really hammered me!”

After a stint in London, Jamie needed somewhere to train in Tunbridge Wells.

“Initially the Tunbridge Wells Boxing Club was not allowed to accept women. Then a boxing gym in Pembury opened, run by Freddy Jacquin. He allowed me to train there with fellow top professional boxers Mark O’Callaghan and Calvin Stonestreet,” Jamie said.

From there, her boxing went from strength to strength. In a career spanning 40 years, what began with underground fights below pubs, culminated in Jamie becoming one of the first female boxers to compete on the first all-women boxing card in Britain on February 19, 1994. She went on to win the British WBIF Lightweight Title.

An opportunity to box and train in the United States followed, where Jamie sparred with and fought boxing greats like Laila Ali and Jacqui Frazier-Lyde, while gaining the support and friendship of the legendary Smokin’ Joe Frazier.

Upon her return from the US in 2007, Jamie became immersed in youth coaching.

“I became the Head London Coach for Women’s Boxing in 2007. Through this, I had the honour of being one of the coaches at the inaugural England’s women’s camp in Manchester, where one of the boxers was Olympic Gold Medallist Nicola Adams,” she said.

It was in recognition of the many years of dedication to women’s boxing that Jamie was asked to carry the Olympic torch through Sevenoaks for the London Olympics in 2012.

Over the years, Jamie’s passion for the sport has never waned. She continues to train with her coach, Tommy Kotrla of TK Boxing.

“It’s strange. At my age [60], I feel like I’m just getting better and better. I’m so much faster than I was a year or two ago.”

While Jamie is due to fly out to attend the ceremony at the Hall of Fame event in Las Vegas from October 6-7, a shortfall in sponsorship remains an issue, and the cost is prohibitive. Although she has been partially sponsored by Jim Litchfield Motor Engineers and ITS Limited, more support is still needed before she can step up to the podium to receive recognition for a lifetime of work.

Any business or individual wishing to sponsor Jamie Johnson’s attendance at this event can email jamierockyjohnson@mail.com

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