From battling her demons to the bring of professional debut - Elley Booth's remarkable boxing return story
Elley Booth thanked the family and friends who helped pull her through a 'dark period' ahead of her long-awaited professional debut.
The Horndean-based bantamweight steps into the ring as a pro for the first time nearly six years after her last bout on Saturday's 'Pompey Assemble' show.
Booth, 29, gave up boxing after 'falling out of love with it' and has faced serious mental health struggles.
Yet the Chichester-raised fighter opted to return to the sport she first started as a toddler after a message from now trainer and manager Michael Ballingall.
Since setting foot back in the gym early last summer, Booth has acquired her pro licence and faces off against Spanish veteran Vanessa Caballero at South Parade Pier on Saturday.
She said: ‘I just kind of fell out of love with it, really (boxing). I’d been doing it since I was eight years old - I’m 29 now - so it’s been a long time I’d done it.
‘I kind of just got to the point where I feel out of love with it a bit, also I’ve suffered with mental health, depression - I didn’t want to get out of bed - there’s no chance you’re going to a gym.
‘I kind of just fell into a slump for a good few years, hit rock-bottom, then it was that rock-bottom which made me realise I had to do something about it so I just got on with it and threw myself back into training and here we are a year-and-a-half later.
‘I’m dead proud of myself for throwing myself back into it, getting on with it, and coming this far.
‘I’m really excited about the future, I really, really am, I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.
‘I’ve had a lot of support from my family, friends, I’ve had so much support - it wouldn’t have been possible without the people I’ve had who helped me in my dark place to now pull me back up. I’m just going to absolutely go for it and win titles.’
Booth was meant to make her debut back in May on the undercard of team-mate Lucas Ballingall's English title battle in Sheffield.
However, a delay in the return of her medical scuppered that scheduled bow, although she believes it's actually worked out for the best with her pro debut now arriving in Pompey.
Booth said: ‘The one I was meant to fight on (original planned pro debut) was in Sheffield so trying to get my supporters to Sheffield after Covid - tickets weren’t exactly cheap - then they’ve got to pay to get up there. It would have been dead expensive for everybody so I thought, everything happens for a reason, it wasn’t meant to be that night but this is. Portsmouth, where I’ve got everyone there, this was meant to be. I’m happy I’ll have everyone there for my debut.’