Plymouth’s young boxer Bethany Warne: not all about the bout

PUBLISHED: 15:42 22 December 2016 | UPDATED: 15:42 22 December 2016

Being on the receiving end of some harsh blows led Bethany Warne to don boxing gloves herself, but she is far more than just a pugilist

If revenge is sweet then the achievements of 17-year-old Bethany Warne from Plymouth are nothing short of ambrosial. For at just seven years old this astonishing young girl was bullied so mercilessly at primary school in Britain’s Ocean City that she ended up in Derriford Hospital, extremely badly physically and emotionally damaged.

“They almost broke my arm and had to go to hospital to get an x-ray and that’s when my parents realised ‘wow, we need to do something’,” she explains.

Concerns about her safety and with an understandable desire to protect their daughter from further harm led her parents to sign her up for combat kickboxing with martial arts which brought her, for the first time, into the realm of contact sports and into the ring.

“When I started kickboxing that was the start - and it started making things so much better,” Beth recalls. “It gave me a lot of confidence and it made everyone not want to mess with me. I never had to use it, that’s the lucky thing, I never had to actually defend myself, I think it’s the knowledge of me actually knowing I can defend myself made people not really bother,” Beth giggles wryly.

From there it wasn’t a long step from kickboxing to boxing aged 13 and her astonishing rise through the ranks to be the NABC National Champion in her class, in the England Training Squad and one step closer to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Is that her dream? Well, potentially. Because this multi-talented young woman has a multitude of goals in her sights - not least continuing to model her distinctive punk style for Plymouth photographer and mentor Dawn Frogson and channelling her inner astro-physicist to become the new Brian Cox.

Now at Devonport High School for Girls, her academic aspirations are as high as her sporting and creative ones.

“I would love to go to the Olympics but I also have other things that I would like to do,” she explains. “I do my modelling for Dawn and I would love to be a model and I love my boxing but I also really love physics and I would love to do something to do with astrophysics, I think I am going to be a teacher.”

With 12 GCSEs including nine As, two Bs and an A* under her boxing belt it’s an achievable goal, but would star-gazing be enough for a young woman with a potentially stellar career in the ring? At the moment her heart is set on helping and supporting those who helped and supported her in her darkest hours. The club that nurtured her is a boxing charity in Plymouth’s Devonport.

“The aim is to get the kids off the streets and to get them doing something worthwhile, like something useful, the club is so passionate about keeping people on the straight and narrow and teaching them something worthwhile.”

Beth herself has become a mentor to those coming up and spends as much time out of her busy schedule as she can afford helping them. “They are quite young, we help to make it fun; we are trying to teach them right from an early age.”

Her clear modelling mentor though is photographer Dawn, who spotted her, put her in (among others) Vivienne Westwood clothing, and gave her the opportunity to express her punk style on camera, another confidence-booster for a girl bulled into A&E. The photographs are beautiful and this is a job Beth has taken to like a duck to water. Her natural style complimented by Dawn’s own. I imagine it must be hard doing modelling and boxing, I say, the juxtaposition is stark and these two activities are, surely, mutually exclusive? Beth dismisses that as a positive, a manageable matter of mere incentive.

“My boxing coach always tells me: ‘If you wanna be in Vogue, you’ve gotta keep your hands up’,” she laughs.

Along with Dawn, local businesses Norpro Training and Kaya Gallery are sponsors who have helped transform this young life. No-one in this field can survive without the financial backing of philanthropists such as these. “Support from my sponsors helps both emotionally and physically, they support me and they support my club as well.”

And support is clearly the one thing more important to her than anything else, something she too offers to those who need her help. “I did some self-defence classes for some kids just to help them. I used to train a little boy who was getting bullied. I kind of covered everything.

“In my general life I try to promote anti-bullying and will help anyone if they want any advice and techniques to defend themselves.”

It’s hard to say where this sparkling young life is going to go, except on a guaranteed upward trajectory. Keep an eye out for this young woman; for whichever way you look at it, whichever path she chooses to follow, there is no doubt about it: Bethany Warne is a knockout.

Ten things you don’t know about Beth

(1)My favourite band is Green Day.

(2) My favourite music genre is punk.

(3)My top movies are Titanic, Big Hero 6, Cars and the Harry Potter movies.

(4)I love physics and space!

(5)I cut my own fringe!

(6)My favourite colours are black and red.

(7)Most of the socks I own are Christmas ones.

(8)I like to DIY my clothes and shoes (customise and/or create my own).

(9)I have a pet husky named Coda.

(10)I love drinking tea!

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