You must be wondering what on earth was I thinking when I decided to name this blog BongoShots… Trust me it has a history behind it! And what a history…
November 2015, I decided to sign up to a White Collar Boxing event, in order to raise money for Cancer Research UK. I love boxing and I always aim to give back so it seemed like a wise thing to do. All I had to do was train hard for 8 weeks, sell some tickets, raise as much money as I could for Cancer Research and be ready to put my face at a prize.
As I was new to the area (I decided to venture out into country side and move to Northampton for a year, during which I was working in great Milton Keynes), this was also an introduction to my new academy – Total Dojo in Bletchley, Milton Keynes. And writing this brings a smile to my face. I truly won a new family there!
Tony Davies and Kelly Haynes, the owners of Total Dojo are THE MOST inspiring people when it comes to life style, goals, attitude and perseverance. Tony is one of the most qualified people I know, in so many different fields I can’t even keep count. He is a qualified lawyer and a passionate photographer. Plus a bloody great martial artist!! Kelly has been fighting and winning all her fights and got recently picked up by team GB and is now fighting 4 Women K-1 Tournament at the Muay Thai Grand Prix at Indigo O2, London. (She is a sweetheart and I am proud of have one day shared the mat with her and learn from her on a one-to-one basis). Great woman making history!
The training was intense and at Total Dojo you aim to WIN or you don’t deserve to fight at all. If people wanted to take training easily, you knew you would have no respect from the trainers and fellow students. The moment you stepped on the mat, you were going to give your all and fight your way up. There was no other option!
I trained insanely hard for those 8 weeks. For the first time in my life I was training 6 times a week, living and breathing boxing, watching videos on head movement, drills and sparring. I even dreamed about the fight night a couple of times! My ex-boyfriend said I was obsessed and that I was taking it too far but Tony and Kelly wouldn’t have it any other way. It was no surprise to me that I have a very competitive nature, but what I realised was that my biggest desire was to, every day, be better than I was the day before.
Fight night came and I was pumped as much as I was anxious. From the day I sparred this girl at the gym I knew she was going to be my opponent on fight night. We hated each other during training and that came out in the ring. The best thing was, once it was over, we truly respected each other and managed to get on really well. I wished her nothing but the best and respected her hard work.
It was her second time going up the ring so she had double as much training as I did but I was determined to not let that get in the way. Fight night, back stage, I stared her in the eyes as much as I could but she couldn’t face me. I felt confident and ready. One thing I was sure: I was going to give my all.
If you’re already hearing The Eye of the Tiger in the background, good! That’s where I’m going!!
The moment came, “Rolling” from Limp Bizkit was at full blast. The referee called me out “Fighting on the red corner, “KILLER KELLS” PEREIRA”!! Over 1000 people watching and cheering for another 6 minutes of pure joy!
I wish I could say I won in the first 10 seconds of first round by knock-out but that was definitely not the case!! I stepped into what I can only classify as the most challenging 6 minutes of my life and, to date, I can only compare it to another event in my life - hiking the 2 highest peaks in Madeira Island, which took us 5h in total, under a 38 degree sun, 1800m above sea level. So yeah, 6 minutes … 5 hours… Picture that for a minute.
We drew (which I was genuinely happy about!!) and we jumped of excitement when we got to the end. I thought she had won and knew she was better prepared than I was. Back stage, afterwards, she told me she too thought I had won. Happy ending!
We were both thrilled because at the end of the day we had done something remarkable – we’ve put ourselves on the line to raise money for a good cause. We raised awareness, we got people together and we brought emotion to peoples’ hearts (and some oops, and uuuh shit! moments). For me that was good enough!
AND WHY BONGO SHOTS?? Well one of my dearest friends, Jeff Spartan, came up and saw the fight. He was the second person I ever trained with and he used to train me before I left to Northampton. Being Caribbean, he is a hell of a character!! I love him to bits and he always manages to make me laugh, even if I’m in a low mood. Anyway, I came out of the ring, had my 2min cry of pure exhaustion (my body was in such shock, I think crying was the only thing it could manage at that stage) and when I met Jeff he was ready to make myself piss laughing!!!! My amazing boxing skills had come through in the ring and my jab and cross came out more like bongo shots. He went further into cobra bongo shots (which I thought was too long for the blog). So imagine me, in the ring, using my opponent’s head like a bongo… or my hands acting like a king cobra getting out of its hidden pit!! Yeah that was me… 8 weeks of hard training, shadowing, watching videos, visualising all the moves and what to do in each situation and endless advice and support from Jeff… Man did we laughed the weeks following the fight!!! We decided Bongo Shots was going to be my nickname from then on.
It was a great experience, an unforgettable night and it made me want to work and learn even more! I won. We all won! For most of us it was a life changing experience. We managed to dig deeper into our souls and find a strength we never thought we had. Even up until today, when sometimes I struggle at training, I think “I have more, I know I do because I’ve done it before!”
If you are reading this, I would like to encourage you do to that thing you want to do and believe it to be too hard to do. That ONE THING! Trust me! You will do it and you will find a way around it! And in the process you will discover your real you! The fighter in you. So go and conquer your battle! I promise it will be worth it!