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The aspiring runner and swimmer who became Right-Hand Rosie

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As a small girl, Commonwealth champion Rosie Eccles used to draw pictures of herself with gold medals around her neck.

But they were not won for boxing, the sport in which she has just climbed to the top of the podium in Birmingham.

"When I was younger, I actually drew pictures of myself as an Olympian, running and swimming. It didn’t quite happen, but that is what I wanted to be,” says Rosie, nicknamed Right Hand Rosie for the power of her right hook.

"I used to love to run and swim at my local club in Chepstow. I was always running, in school I used to do the cross country running all the time. 

"But then I got injured when I was about 12. It was in a race and I didn’t see the turning.

“I didn't know what I had done at the time, it was all a bit different back then, but I had injured some sort of ligament in my knee.

"I couldn’t run then until I was about 15. I was doing athletics in school, but I wouldn’t have much in me before I was too tired. So, it was three years of not a lot of sport.”

Athletics’ and swimming’s loss became boxing’s gain.

A decade on from first trying boxing at the age of 16, Eccles is now the women’s light middleweight champion of the Commonwealth - only the second Welsh female boxer to win a Commonwealth gold medal after Lauren Price.

But she says her curiosity to try out different sports - gaining all-round fitness and co-ordination in a variety of different skills - gave her an excellent grounding, both for sport and for life.

“I went to a boxing class when I was 16, so that’s how it all began. As a kid, my dream was to be an Olympian. 

“It must have been the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. I remember watching Mo Farah, I would be glued to the TV watching all the sports. I was the same in 2012. 

"While it was my dream to run and I was pretty good at it, it wasn’t quite my calling. 

“When I stepped into a boxing ring at 15, it was just a boxercise class in Caldicot. I was really lucky that I met the coach, Paul Maloney. 

"When he saw me, he came over and asked if I'd ever done this before. He told me to come down to the gym in the mornings when I was 16. 

Rosie Eccles holds the Red Dragon of Wales with her gold medal around her neck.
Rosie Eccles celebrates her gold medal success with Y Ddraig Goch of Wales.
I used to love to run and swim at my local club in Chepstow. I was always running, in school I used to do the cross country running all the time.
Rosie Eccles

"I bought a little moped when I was 16 and I'd sneak out of my house at three o’clock in the morning.

“I'd walk it down the road, so no-one could hear it start, then I’d ride to Newport on the moped at 50mph. I’d get to the gym for around five. I would train for an hour and a half.

"Then, I'd get back to the house for around 10 minutes before everyone got up. I did it for about three months before getting caught.

“There was some pushback from my parents, because of the sport, but they knew I’d do it anyway.”

Eventually, Rosie’s parents agreed to let her continue to box at the gym, but at a more suitable time of day than her middle-of-the-night secret excursions.

"I went to a local gym in Chepstow, but even then it was difficult as they wouldn’t train girls at the time. 

"The thing is, 10 years ago was so different. I wanted to play rugby with my brother, but there was a lot of pushback back then. 

“Thankfully, times are changing so fast. Being a female in sport you have to earn your right, you have to do it by doing positive things, being good, not complaining and getting on with it, but there are opportunities.”

Rosie’s right hand power was in its early days back then, but her dominance in her final in Birmingham, against Australian Kaye Frances Scott, made for one of the most impressive boxing displays in the whole tournament.

“Once I found my power was landing, I thought, ‘let’s just go.’ I was right up for this. It had to be now. I couldn’t live with myself not securing that gold medal.

“Hearing that anthem made the struggles, all the effort, so worth it.

"There’s something different about the Commonwealth Games, being able to represent Wales, it brings something different. It’s brilliant.

"I don’t really know what comes next. I don’t want to look too far ahead.” 

"But I have been studying alongside my boxing. I have a degree and a masters in sport and sport psychology. 

“I have always wanted to be involved in elite sport. For now, I have to just think about boxing. It’s too scary to think about the future at the moment and the sport is very consuming, but there will come a time.”

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