Friday, December 18, 2015

Australian boxer Bianca Elmir on training, food and aiming for Gold

PIc via Biana Bam Bam Elmire Instagram by Phill Northwood

I posted an interview on Facebook a few days ago where Australian boxer Bianca ‘Bam Bam’ Elmir talks about stereotypes of boxing and women boxers. And by a lovely coincidence a film-maker working with Biana got in touch, and here we are with a couple of blog-posts to come from our chat. 

Bianca is gunning to bring home Australia’s first gold medal from the AIBA women’s amateur boxing world championships at 54kgs. 

She won the International Boxing Tournament Balkan gold last month, and holds the Oceania bantamweight title, and before that fought in MuayThai and kickboxing having started with soccer. Phew!


So how much training exactly does it take to have a realistic shot at that gold?

Bianca’s training goes over six days, including walking everywhere. She jokes: “Running or walking is therapy and a heaps better way to get around than a metal car."

She said: “I do my strength and conditioning training with one coach Bryan Roberts from Full Throttle – it’s mostly plyometrics and supersets. Then I do my technical training five days a week with Garry Hamilton; my crazy British Trainer from Middlesbrough. I also do kickboxing training one day a week to bring me back to my roots with Gaz Rees at Chopper Muay Thai. One of my favourite training projects is mountain running. I love it!”


Food, food, glorious food 


Having moved divisions from flyweight to bantamweight and now fighting at 60kgs, food is a BIG deal for Bianca. She jokes the main thing she’s learned on this journey has been not to obsess about calories, saving that for training. 

She warns: “Food is too tied up with your self- image and with your self- esteem. It can be a dark and lonely road if you let food and diet obsession take over. It’s hard enough as it is to shut out all of the sensationalised information about food and diet.” 

And does she feel extra pressure compared to the guys at her gym?  “Being a woman you’re pressured to focus so heavily on your looks! But at the end of the day it’s important to have a well-balanced diet. I eat bread and I drink milk and I’m all good! 

“I try keep myself up to date with nutrition and training by listening to podcasts. I try not eat too much and when I do, I try not do my head in about it; although I sometimes do,” she said. 

PICS: Bianca Bam Bam Elmir Instagram

Impact of the London Olympics on women's boxing 


She’s been fighting in one form or another since 2009, but like so many of us was delighted to see amateur boxing at the London Olympics. 

“Promotion of women’s boxing in Australia has improved so much as compared to say five years ago, when I first started. You can see this overseas too after boxing was included in London. I know the final 60kg division had more interest than any other sport so it’s definitely come a long way. There’s also a lot more opportunities for women to compete here,” she said. 

How did Holly Holm vs Ronda Rousey affect Australian boxing? 


And of course just last month Melbourne, Australia was home to one of the most hyped women’s fights in recent times: the MMA bout between Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm. 

Bianca said: “I think Rousey has played the gender card well to her advantage. I think she’s a good business woman. She knows how to turn it on for the media and play into the stereotype of either 'tough girl fighter' or 'woman getting interviewed with an evening frock' which I’ve seen.” 

But she reckons there are other ways to do, adding: “I personally think there are many more shades of grey for female athletes. I don't think she has managed to capture all the nuances we can bring, but I respect that she turned the tide and got female fighting on the map.”


Stay calm and carry on boxing 

And her final tips for staying sane when your daily grind involves getting hit in the face?

“My friends and the group around me have given me so much support. You need that when things get hard; they keep me grounded and focused. I also make sure I am always laughing.”

Keep up Bianca's fights at Bianca Elmir on Instagram  

And I'll be speaking to Jemma from Lolapolooza Films soon about the documentary she's making on Bianca.

UPDATED: Post updated Saturday Dec 19th to correct factual errors  

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