Cyprus Mail

2016: The black widow of boxing

Nigel Collins, Nina Cranstoun, Stacy Dunn (from left)

It’s not that I get bored with writing about cars destroyed by arson every second day, or the environment or education.

Don’t get me wrong, as a journalist I know all these issues need to be pointed out and investigated, and most days I like to help enlighten the public on what is going on in our corrupt society with its political, environmental and educational problems. Sometimes I am even able to suggest some possible solutions. But when I was asked to choose my top story of the year, my first thought was an assignment as far removed from my daily life as a journalist as it was possible to get.

Nina Cranstoun is dubbed the ‘black widow’ of boxing. She is one of very few female boxing promoters in the UK, and had come to Cyprus to promote an event. I was sent to interview her.

It was an unexpected pleasure to meet and write about a person with a very different outlook on life and a different path in life, who yet at the same time shares the common human goal of helping others and ‘improving the world’.

This particular interview was easy to research beforehand. Cranstoun is well known, especially in boxing circles. Though my son is into martial arts, I thought I’d better learn more about ‘the black widow of boxing’, especially as that sounded rather intimidating. Then I found the first photo on the internet, and that looked scary indeed! A picture of a woman in front of a boxing ring, looking very stern.

I was intrigued. How often do I get to interview a female boxing promoter?

Next, I watched a youtube video, released in January 2016, with more than 305,000 hits.

The caption reads: “Nina Cranstoun is one of the few female boxing promoters in the UK. Using a combination of brassy charm and the promise of exciting competitors she lures in some of the biggest underground fighters from across the country. Nina has risen above sexist attitudes along her mission to make the hyper-masculine world of amateur boxing, a little bit more spectacular.”

Curiouser and curiouser.

The reason I was sent to interview her in her Protaras hotel was that she was in Cyprus to promote an event in Nicosia in which two of her ‘underground fighters’ took part.

A good idea, because besides interviewing her I got to see how she acted firsthand. There was a lot of positive energy around.

“Boxing itself is entertaining to watch. It’s an art form, it’s a sport. It is always going to be around, so my aim is to turn it into something positive,” she said. “Sports of any type are always a way to channel aggression, and my aim is to turn the aggression into a positive energy.”

Doing the interview, I became acquainted with what she does on a daily basis, in the form of the two boxers whom she was promoting and who were right there with her when I interviewed her.  One of them was Stacy Dunn who faced many struggles in his life including time in prison before she started nurturing him.

“Nina provides massive support,” he said, “not only professionally but as a person.”

“Not many promoters are like this. Sometimes she has to be stern but that’s necessary. She trusts us and we trust her, it’s like being a family,” the other one, Nigel Collins, added. And that is certainly the feeling that I got when I saw the three together.

She was repeatedly called to sort out some minor problems during our interview at the hotel’s swimming pool. According to the promoter “the boxing ring is the loneliest place, the fighters are completely alone there. I have to make sure everything around it is the safest possible.”

None of it is about herself, she said, and what I saw confirmed it.

The black widow now has her own gym in the UK with chandeliers above the boxing ring, one of the many small touches to ensure that women become interested in the sport. There she also reaches out to the community by giving free classes to kids, helping them to get rid of negative feelings. “It is not my gym, it is theirs,” she commented, pointing at the fighters clowning around at the pool.

Indeed a person who gives out good vibes and gave me an insight into a totally different way of life.

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