Kelly Morgan has always been around sport, from snuggling under coats on court side at her mum’s netball games as a little girl to having a dad who was a Royal Army Physical Corps Instructor, it would have been hard to avoid. But for Kelly she’s not just embraced one sport in a sporting career but three.
Yes three. But she’s not just your average girl getting fit, Kelly goes beyond that, she’s a three time sporting sensation. And she’s still got more to prove, and is throwing herself into the sporting ring in more ways than one.
Back in school though it was her ability to throw that stood out at a young age, and summer terms in secondary school saw Kelly’s first real introduction to athletics but it was one she took to quite quickly.
“The boys were allowed the javelins but we were only allowed to throw rounders balls. But once they realised I could throw it quite a distance, and a significant amount of persistence from me they eventually let me throw an actual javelin. I beat all the boys and soon found myself a local coach to take it further.”
Further Kelly did go and was soon working her way through English Schools and AAA championships, taking a number of junior titles, becoming British record holder and senior champion a few times too. But Kelly reached her highest world ranking of 6th in 2002 and took the bronze medal in the 2002 Commonwealth Games – just as well she persuaded that teacher to give her a javelin!
Pretty impressive indeed, in fact the first time I met Kelly was on a netball court and apart from her extremely accurate shooting I was overwhelmed by her ability to catch a ball, she just had this incredible strength, when I reminded her of it she was a totally humble self.
“I don’t think of it really I have always been able to throw. My Dad & I spent most of my childhood doing just that. I am not sure I have huge amounts of pure strength but I seem to be able to create power from my shoulders & always have been able to, thankfully.”
At the same time that Kelly was working her way through her javelin career she was also playing netball, the game that she watched/slept through her mum’s games as a small girl. But in typical Kelly style, she didn’t just play for a local league side. No she played for the England development squad.
“At 21 I was selected to play in the senior development side against Australia. It was such a massive thrill for me, I’d missed out on international selection as a junior so this was such a great opportunity.”
But the dreams aren’t always filled with happiness as Kelly recalls the sadness that she was asked to tour with the England senior team after impressing in the match. But the problems of being a dual international reared its head for the first time.
“All my funding at that time was through British Athletics so I didn’t feel I could tour with netball when I’m being funded by a different sport. I really wanted to go but I had to do the right thing.”
Loyalty is something that comes through with Kelly and she’s very loyal to people who’ve supported her through her career. Because it seems common that sportspeople can throw themselves into a sporting career fulltime, Kelly when juggling netball and athletics was also in the British Army.
For Kelly though she has a debt of gratitude to the army as they allowed her to really concentrate on her sporting career while she was making her big breakthrough.
“I was very fortunate to be fantastically supported by the British Army. In essence for the first couple of years of service I was training full time and then when I started to have to have surgeries and shoulder injuries they moved me to the military gyms so I could transferring into the Royal Army Physical Training Corps which was something I’d also wanted to do since being a child.”
The throwing was over, Kelly’s dreams blighted by the shoulder injuries that had troubled her since she was a young girl and not being able to generate the power she would need to throw. She could concentrate on her army career, become the physical training instructor like her father but after 12 years of military service Kelly moved on.
It was a hard decision but I was sort of at a crossroads. After I managed to transfer to the RAPTC & in the shadow of the London Olympics (a marker to me of how far I had fallen short in my sporting dreams), I was a little lost & decided to leave in search of something new, this was 2012 & marked 12 years of service RAF plus Army combined.”
But Kelly soon found something she could do to reignite her passion. Boxing. It may not be an immediate thought for a lot of women, but it was something that Kelly had experienced before.
“I’d been around boxing from an early age, due to my Dad using it with his battalion and I also tried a little bit when I was in the army in 2007 whilst on my transfer course. I’ve always wanted to do it but there were always limitations to women’s boxing so instead I channelled my energies into netball in the winter and athletics in the summer. My sporting life took a different path.”
Until now, and in true Kelly style, she hasn’t just tried it, she’s on her way to being a star in the sport once more. Having only been boxing for a couple of years, she is undefeated, she also is the WBC Silver belt holder and she is on the brink of fighting for a WBC World Title. Practically on top of the world, it must have been a great move to become a professional fighter. The reality is a little different.
“I love boxing, but it is very hard financially being a professional. It’s not even about having huge sums of money, it’s about surviving,” says Kelly. “Only today I received a message from a sponsor that they’re no longer able to support me financially. I’m on the brink of a world title fight and I can’t afford to run my car.”
Kelly is dedicated and disciplined, she works hard in the gym, she listens to her trainers and does what she can ensuring she eats and trains correctly. But she also has to spend time securing bouts and sponsorship. Being a professional isn’t as easy as it looks but far from moan, Kelly, as she has with everything in life, takes it all in her stride.
“It’s tough to get the financial support but I am so happy, so fulfilled in what I’m doing. Yes, I wish I could have put on a pair of gloves when I first wanted to when I was five or six but everything happens for a reason and my sporting career went a different way. I don’t feel I’ve had to make sacrifices, the training I do makes me a better version of myself. I thank my lucky stars every day for the life I have.”
Apart from being a multiweight world champion, Kelly’s dreams are not for herself but for women in general and for the sport of boxing. She is proud and empowered by the amateur boxers in the sport and wishes them to continue to fly the flag and gain recognition for the sport in general and for promoters and more people to see that the women’s fights are worth investing in, more often than not, they’re the fight of the night.
“I’ve been bringing women into boxing in my home town in Swindon, encouraging women to give it a go. And if you’ve got a nagging feeling you want to try it then do. Don’t think about it, walk into your local gym & join in. It can be a daunting thought to walk into a boxing gym but when a coach & fellow boxers see your passion you will become one of the family.”
With Kelly in your corner it becomes far less daunting and her passion for the sport, to encourage women to participate is all encompassing. Kelly is hoping to be able to fight four times world champion Nikki Adler before the end of the year and take the World Title she’s been working for. On passion alone she’d walk it. But I also know she has got the skills and determination too. And there are a lot of people in her corner too.
FINAL WORD: Ahead of her World Title fight, Kelly needs financial support. If you can help her in any way then please get in contact with her via http://www.kellymorganboxing.co.uk or via social media –
Twitter/Instagram – boxermorgan1
FB – Kelly Morgan Boxing