Noble Boxer on world stage

Jessica Bagley with her bronze medal at the gym she coaches at in Moorabbin. Picture: JONTY RALPHSMITH 284792.

By Jonty Ralphsmith

Noble Park resident Jessica Bagley has won bronze in the International Boxing Association (IBA) Women’s Championship.

Bagley beat India’s Pooja Rani in her first-round clash at the championships in Istanbul, with the win qualifying her for a semi-final bout.

She then went on to lose to Poland’s Oliwia Toborek in the semi, denying her a gold medal fight in her first tournament since 2019.

“I had no access to ice baths overseas and was finding it hard to fall asleep,” Bagley said.

“One thing I need to do next time is not have my phone – I love the support from boxing and the wider community but it can be overwhelming especially when you just want to dial in on what you have to do.”

A two week training camp in the USA sharpened her mentality entering the tournament, but between her two fights she reflected knowing where her preparation could have been better.

Under the tutelage of Jeremy Udovich, at St Kilda Boxing Club, Bagley has been fighting since 2017, winning the national championships in 2018 and 2019.

Bagley went to the world championships in Russia in 2019, and recalls the intense following that the sport has in Siberia.

The now 30-year-old admits she did not have the confidence demanded of such a high-level and closely followed competition at the time.

Her coach, Udovich, said the pandemic-enforced break enabled improvement in that area.

“The biggest improvement is probably in her self-belief, she believes she belongs at that level now and walks into the fight knowing there is no way anyone can beat her and that just comes with experience,” Udovich said.

Udovich suggests part of the reason that Bagley got stage fright is that she had only been competing in tournaments for two years prior to the fight.

“I just back myself a lot more,” Bagley said.

“I think I probably didn’t believe in myself as much as I do now and I trust the knowledge and presence I have in the ring.”

She got into the boxing scene when she was well into her 20s, after feeling lethargic during a powerlifting competition…wanting a new skill to challenge her.

A grounding in other sports gave her a work ethic and natural physical attributes that have translated into her boxing career.

“Straight from the start I thought she had potential because she is a tall girl so has long reach, she’s got a good jab and she’s athletic and fit, giving her a good skillset,” her coach said.

“Her ability to adapt and adjust and tactically understand what was expected of her and how to solve the problem in front of her has become her biggest asset – that has allowed her to develop skills pretty quickly.”

Adamant to win gold next year, Bagley has entrenched herself in the boxing fraternity in Victoria as a trainer at Fit2Box in Moorabbin and intends to go to Europe later in the year to go up against the best in the world.

“With more experience, and if I had more fights internationally over Covid-19, I would have been more prepared this time around,” Bagley said.

“If I have more fights, I’m only going to get better and those nerves are probably not going to be as shocking when you’re in the ring or out the back warming up.”