Boxer Holly Stratford fighting to stop domestic violence

The irony of belting another woman about the head to shine a light on domestic violence isn’t lost on Holly Stratford.

She knows women’s boxing is controversial at the best of times.

But the Wollongong athlete’s first big bout on Saturday night is about demanding respect inside and outside the ring.

Stratford is shaping up against a heavier opponent in an an all-female Sydney fight night to raise money and awareness for charities that deal with the horrors of domestic violence.

The 29-year-old wants to prove to the masses that boxing is an art form that requires discipline, skill, speed and a great big heart.

‘’And it teaches females to face their fears head on,’’ she said.

‘’There’s a bit of irony there for sure, but I do love that, it’s about empowering females.

‘’I thought this was an excellent cause and while I don’t have any personal experiences I think we all should make a stand against domestic violence.’’

Stratford trains six days a week under the guidance of former Australian middle weight champion Vito Gaudiosi.

‘’I run every morning, usually I go down the beach and run from one end of South beach to the other or some sprint training,’’ she said.

‘’Then I go to Vito at Crockers Boxing Gym in Dapto in the afternoons.

‘’It’s traditional, proper boxing training, that’s what I love.

‘’All the drills, stripping it all back, nothing fancy at all, just the basic stuff and that’s what it’s all about.’’

Gaudiosi says he’s had many women – and men – walk through his doors to learn how to box and defend themselves.

‘’I've trained a few women over the years who have come to the gym with issues off domestic violence, basically to build confidence and learn the art of self defence,’’ he said.

‘’In saying that I've also helped out fathers who have been physically abused by their children due to drug addiction and other issues.’’

‘’Domestic violence does not only hurt women, it’s rife in our communities.’’

Stratford said her friends and family don‘t always understand her passion.

‘’Mr parents are supportive and really proud of me, my dad will come and watch but my mum won’t,’’ she said.

‘’Mum’s proud of me but she cant handle it.

‘’I’m just really excited to get the chance to put all the hard work to the test, all for a good cause.’’

The fight card will feature 40 women from all walks of life including mums, a police officer, teenagers and even a thoroughbred trainer.

Proceeds will go to charities 1800 RESPECT and The Luke Batty Foundation. 

For more information follow the Inglis 2016 "Fighting to live with out Fear" Charity Boxing Night Facebook page.