In this twentieth episode of the season of the Her Spirit podcast BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin and BBC Triathlon presenter Annie Emmerson talk to professional boxer and England footballer Stacey Copeland.
Stacey is deeply passionate about making a difference to others and uses her love of sport to have a positive impact wherever she can.
Her community and charity work, activism around progress for women in sport and gender equality and involvement in encouraging sport for all has led to much recognition both within and beyond sport.
Boxing plays a big role in Stacey’s family, her dad was a professional boxer and her granddad has run the family gym for over 40 years. From a young age she learnt the basics in the gym, attended boxing shows, and grew to love the atmosphere and everything about the sport. She always wanted to be a part of it, however at that time, there were no opportunities within boxing for females.
As a youngster, Stacey also loved football and after joining a local team her sports career truly took off. She played for Doncaster Belles in the Premier League, England U18s, and eventually went on a football scholarship to America graduating with a degree in Sociology. After graduation Stacey played in the women’s semi-pro league in Dallas, and finished her football career in Stockholm, Sweden for Vasalunds FC.
Returning home from Sweden, injuries meant Stacey could no longer play football at elite level but she was not ready to give up competitive sport. Having always boxed for fitness, and having a real passion for the sport Stacey decided aged 29 to finally pursue her first sporting dreams of becoming a competitive boxer. Stacey was very much aware that this was ‘old’ to be taking up a new sport, especially such a tough and male dominated sport, but she was determined to give it everything. She began training, lost 5kg for her first fight, and won; the nerves before that first fight were like nothing Stacey had ever experienced before! The feeling when her hand was raised at the end was the best feeling ever, and that was it, Stacey was hooked!
She reached the ABA national final in her first year but had to pull out due to illness, however she recovered and went onto win two ABA national titles, as well as four Boxcup tournaments in Europe.
In 2013 Stacey attended an emerging talent camp at GB boxing, and the experience made her want to take boxing to the next level. The following year she competed in her first international contest winning a tough contest against a New Zealand opponent and following this, Stacey was selected to represent England at the European Boxing Championships. To box in the welterweight category she had to drop a further 6kg, so began a strict diet and training programme. Stacey arrived at the European Championships with less than 20 bouts experience and was in awe of the whole experience; however, trusting her coaches and team mates advice she gave her all in each fight. She reached the final beating the Italian champion, the Russian number one seed, and the Irish national champion along the way and although she did not win the final, Stacey was delighted to come away from her first major competition with a silver medal.
It just shows that no matter what obstacles are in your way, whether it be age, injuries, or anything else, if you work really hard and give everything then you can achieve amazing things!
We love her Brene Brown quote "We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can't have both. Not at the same time.” and that we are all in the same storm but not the same boat.