‘When I’m boxing, I don’t think about anything else’

Ebonie has sparred with Olympic gold medallist Nicola Adams
Ebonie has sparred with Olympic gold medallist Nicola Adams
Picture: Shutterstock

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Teenager Ebonie Jones is happy to miss out on friends’ parties and trips to McDonald’s with her family.

She’s been known to freeze her birthday cake for later so that she can stick to a strict, fitness-boosting diet.

(Left to right) Annette Jones with Sonny (16), Logan, eight, Ebonie (15) and husband Brian. Picture: Malcolm Wells (14231-8817)

(Left to right) Annette Jones with Sonny (16), Logan, eight, Ebonie (15) and husband Brian. Picture: Malcolm Wells (14231-8817)

And the hard-working schoolgirl regularly foregoes a weekend lie-in for early morning runs or training at the gym.

All this dedication and sacrifice is down to one thing – Ebonie’s passion for boxing.

An international champion, the Drayton youngster shows incredible focus in her sport, often casting aside the usual teenage concerns.

When she came back from the World Junior Championships in Bulgaria last year, the 15-year-old was sporting a bronze medal – and two black eyes!

‘It doesn’t really bother me, they weren’t that big, just a bit of bruising,’ says Ebonie, smiling. ‘And people at school are used to it. But it doesn’t happen much anyway.’

She might not mind the shiners, but at times she’s a standard teenager. ‘I hate getting spots, I worry about that,’ admits Ebonie.

So she does spend time fretting over pimples and prom dresses (the Year 11 pupil still hasn’t found one for when she leaves Portsmouth’s Charter Academy this year).

But when Ebonie’s in her other gear – shorts, vest, headguard and boxing gloves – she casts cosmetic concerns aside.

‘I’m not really thinking about anything else. I’m just concentrating on what I’ve got to do to win,’ she says.

The schoolgirl’s incredible focus (along with her natural talent in the ring) has been paying off for the past few years.

Ebonie first took up kick boxing after watching a documentary with her family.

She started boxing sessions in 2011 to improve her hand skills and her talent was soon spotted by coaches at Heart of Portsmouth boxing club in the city centre.

Now she competes for England and brings home medals from international championships.

Ebonie is a three-time ABA (Amateur Boxing Association) national champion and a European Union Championships gold medallist.

She won a bronze medal in the World Junior Championships last year and brought home the gold medal for her age and weight at the Nations’ Cup in Serbia last month.

Ebonie is 5ft 1in and regularly beats girls a fair bit taller then her.

In order to keep in shape and maintain the right weight she has to stick to a strict diet, which means very little junk food.

And she runs and trains at the gym several times a week.

The schoolgirl also has to keep her grades up.

‘A lot of people don’t realise the extra work she puts in to do well at school,’ says coach Q Shillingford.

‘When she’s on the train to Sheffield to train with England, she’s doing her school work.’

For Ebonie, the goal is clear. Since seeing GB boxer Nicola Adams receive her gold medal at London 2012, she’s wanted to make it all the way to the Olympics.

It was Adams’ win that gave the young girl an extra push, so it was strange to be sparring with the Olympian during a training session.

Ebonie had the amazing opportunity while she was preparing for Bulgaria.

‘I was nervous but I had to forget about that and concentrate,’ she says.

‘I did all right, but I think she was going easy on me.’

It’s not all hard work. The teenager gets to have time out and enjoys treats with her family, including siblings Jordan, 20, Sonny, 16 and eight-year-old Logan.

Mum Annette says: ‘I’ll pick her up from training and then we’ll go to the cinema or something.

‘She goes to parties sometimes but does miss a lot. But this is what Ebonie wants to do and I think it’s nice to see.

‘This has given her a whole different life. I wouldn’t have worried either way, you love your children regardless. But I think she’s lucky to have discovered her talent so early.’

Annette and dad Brian aren’t worried about the danger either, pointing out the sport is extremely well regulated.

‘Going out on a bike on the road is just as dangerous,’ says Brian.

The flip side is they know what their daughter’s doing, she eats healthily and Brian adds: ‘Boxing teaches them to be sociable and have respect for people.

‘It’s not just about getting into the ring.’

Ebonie, who has a good social life within the boxing world and coaches younger children, explains why she has made it her life.

‘In the changing rooms, when I’m getting ready to go in the ring, I think why do I want to do it – because I’m nervous and everything. But when you win it’s such a big buzz.’

She was also thrilled to be named OCS Young Sportperson and attend a London ceremony where she received the national award from sports presenter Gabby Logan.

The teenager has plenty of support. Brian goes out on his bike with Ebonie while she runs and coach Colin Williams trains with her and plans her diet.

Now the schoolgirl has been offered a university scholarship and is working hard towards her exams and Olympic dream.

But first, of course, she needs to find that prom dress.


As well as being the city’s top club for competitive boxers, the Heart of Portsmouth Boxing Academy provides people of all genders, ages and fitness levels with an opportunity to get in shape, have fun and make new friends.

There are beginners and senior sessions for children and over-17s, as well as boxercise sessions at the club, which was set up in September 2008 and is based in the city centre.

HOP works closely with the city’s Community Improvement Partnership, Portsmouth Respect Programme and the Motiv8 youth group who all work hard in directing and supporting the youth of Portsmouth.

The club is in partnership with Charter Academy, which is leading the way in boxing in schools in the country, by putting training on the academy curriculum.

For information on getting started visit hop.boxingawards.co.uk, e-mail andy.bhop@hotmail.co.uk or call (07587) 178494.