Ellie Scotney began life in boxing and with Crystal Palace in unconventional ways.
Catford born and raised and a proud south Londoner (“I stick to my roots,” she quips. “I go up to the Catford Cat and then walk back again,”) Scotney faced a choice as a child:
“It was either Crystal Palace, Millwall or Charlton,” she says. “I kind of got bullied into it but now I’m a fanatic. My brothers were Season Ticket holders and I was a little tagalong. I used to go to the games that were cheap.”
In her earliest days watching Palace – in particular, “genius” Andrew Johnson – Scotney was also taking the first steps on the path to becoming a professional boxer.
Switching from Team GB to being a professional with the Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing earlier this year, the now-22-year-old’s entrance to the sport started with unique motivations, not dissimilar to her discovery of Palace:
“My brother used to box and whatever he did I thought was the right thing to do. I only went because they’d get a Ribena and a Mars Bar.
“He kept saying ‘no’ because it wasn’t cool to take your little sister so it was my cousin that gave in and took me down to Lynn Boxing Club. As soon as I walked in, that was it.”
The same bond between Palace and boxing, Scotney has sustained both passions – one becoming a career. Growing up, she was a keen footballer herself - “aggressive up front” but “used to toe-punt,” in her own words.
Scotney explains why boxing was ultimately a more attractive prospect: “Football is a team game and, for me, I like knowing it’s me and that I can put that work in. Whereas with a team you can say: ‘It was you or you’ and I could point my finger.”
That driven, focused attitude is what pulled Scotney through a tough recent period, when COVID-19 delayed her professional debut.
Her first fight did finally take place in October 2020 against Bec Connolly, however. Scotney won through a six-round decision in an eventful bout, but much of the hardest work preceded the debut – in and out of the ring.
She recalls working for B&Q alongside training, revealing the staggering lengths she went to in sustaining her schedule: “It was hard at points because I’d do an early morning shift or a late one and I had to move my boxing around my work, which I’m not used to.
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“They would clash, massively. I’d work, get kept on a bit later and it would be a nightmare getting to the gym. Sometimes I wouldn’t get home till half 11 at night and I’d then still have to do a run. It was a lot of balancing but I’m grateful now I can just focus on my boxing again.
“The first two months [of lockdown], even boxing gyms weren’t allowed back - professionals weren’t allowed to train. I had a little setup in my house but that didn’t last too long - my house is like the house that Jack built!”
Scotney’s step into sport provided south London with another boxer to shout about, with the capital’s more productive half filling gyms throughout history.
Joining titans such as Frank Bruno, David Haye and Chris Eubank, Scotney’s name also ranks alongside Caroline and Daniel Dubois and fellow Palace fans Joshua Buatsi and Richard Riakporhe as fighters from south London.
Reflecting on her own experience, she attempts to explain the concentration of talent – both in football and in boxing – from south of the river:
“When you’re brought up in south London,” she says, “you’re brought into not the best of areas. It gives you that little bit of edge and adds to whatever we put our mind to. Even the Palace players, the team and how they [the fans] get behind everyone is different and it’s rare that you see that in football.
“It’s a different breed. You’re born into what the world is actually like, so nothing that can happen really shocks you because the odds are against you from the get-go. You’re made different.”
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