EBANIE BRIDGES: I was teaching maths and paying people to fight me before winning world title and be (2024)

I'm Ebanie Bridges, aka The Blonde Bomber and current IBF bantamweight world champion. You may have noticed me at the weigh-ins having a laugh and enjoying life.

But let me let tell you that sheer hard work has gone into being the champion I've become. In another life I've worked as a maths teacher, a ring girl and professional bodybuilder thanks to some pretty outdated laws that were standing in the way of me realising a dream.

EBANIE BRIDGES: I was teaching maths and paying people to fight me before winning world title and be (1) EBANIE BRIDGES: I was teaching maths and paying people to fight me before winning world title and be (2)

Growing up in Australia, I was encouraged to take up martial arts by my parents and so started off with Karate.

By my teenage years, I had made the move to kickboxing and Muay Thai, although I didn't really fancy being kicked, elbowed and kneed to the face in general.

I liked doing it to other people and I like training, but I didn't really fancy it.

This sparked my final transition over to boxing, but unfortunately, at the time it was illegal for women to compete in combat sports in Australia, a law which didn't change until 2008 - only 15 years ago.

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That was why I became a ring-card girl, because I loved the fighting, but we couldn't fight. So, I was a ring-card girl just to be at the fights and be in the ring.

I did this for ten years and I loved it, I love entertaining and that's what it was, entertaining.

EBANIE BRIDGES: I was teaching maths and paying people to fight me before winning world title and be (3)

I was very popular and I used to get flown all over the country and I would make more money than a lot of the fighters.

I used to be a ring-card girl for all the martial arts, kickboxing, boxing, Muay Thai and I got paid to sit ringside for a sport that I loved.

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When I last did a fight night - it wasn't that long ago and shows how things have changed - I used to wear G-strings and it was like a strip show.

I would start off in a really nice dress and then mid-card I'd have shorts and a crop top and by the time of the main event I was in a G-string and a bikini and you wouldn't see that now.

Alongside being a ring-card girl, I began bodybuilding as a way to get the rush of competition while boxing was still illegal for women.

Bodybuilding is what inspired my approach to wearing lingerie at boxing weigh-ins now.

EBANIE BRIDGES: I was teaching maths and paying people to fight me before winning world title and be (4)

To me, the weigh-ins are just like a mini body building competition, with a little less tan, but its a very similar feeling.

You're depleting all week, you're dehydrated and that's what it's like when you compete and you're in your G-string and posing on stage and it's all about stage presence.

I didn't love the process of bodybuilding, but I loved being on stage, so I thought with boxing I can kill two birds with one stone here. I can have a little bit of bodybuilding vibes, still have my stage presence and posing and then I get to bash b****es. So, it's perfect for me and I love it!

The weigh-in is where the similarities between boxing and bodybuilding start and end, however. As a whole, bodybuilding is much harder than boxing, but there are many reasons for that. The diet is ridiculous.

To be a high level bodybuilder and to be winning, the diets you need to be that low body fat and to have that shape... it's not just eight weeks like you're in a fight camp.

It's 16 weeks of hard dieting, sometimes more, plus there's off-season where you're force feeding to grow muscle and improve your physique.

EBANIE BRIDGES: I was teaching maths and paying people to fight me before winning world title and be (5)

So, its a 24-hour 365-day career and boxing is to to a degree, but for me it's much more relaxed when you compare the two.

Bodybuilding has to be the most disciplined sport in the world. I was insane, I was crying during leg workouts because I couldn't quit, I'd be crying pushing through doing walking lunges and then squats and it was really intense.

But, that mentality I had in bodybuilding with fatigue not being an option and no quit, all this kind of stuff, I took that same mindset and discipline into boxing and that's why I've risen so fast and learned so fast because I didn't make any excuses and I've given it my all.

The only thing in bodybuilding is you just push through pain constantly, whereas in boxing you need to know when to have a rest and not over train.

As if being a bodybuilder and a ring-card girl at once wasn't enough, at the time I also had a third job down a slightly different path as a maths teacher.

I always wanted to be a teacher because I went through some stuff in my teens and I wanted to inspire and have an effect on kids.

EBANIE BRIDGES: I was teaching maths and paying people to fight me before winning world title and be (6)

I also wanted to spot problem children and see kids who were at high risk to problems at home or drugs and alcohol and be able to get them while they're young and influence them into being better adults and changing their lives.

That's where it stemmed from, wanting to give back. I would see their attitudes change in the classroom towards themselves and towards their lives, because of the things I taught such as positivity and self-belief in a very safe and positive environment, which is full of support.

I'm so passionate about teaching and so many people don't believe in themselves when it comes to maths, which is bulls*** because anyone can do anything they've just got to f***ing try and work at it.

It helped that I wasn't a strict teacher and I was definitely one of the favourite teachers in the school.

Kids loved being in my class, I even had other kids trying to get into my class. I uplift and it's about positive motivation.

EBANIE BRIDGES: I was teaching maths and paying people to fight me before winning world title and be (7) EBANIE BRIDGES: I was teaching maths and paying people to fight me before winning world title and be (8)

I had punishments for saying banned words like 'I can't', 'It's too hard' or 'I'm dumb'. The kids who said that had to come back at recess and write affirmations, 'I can do it', 'I'm not dumb'. They thought it was so lame writing nice things about themselves, but it made them not stop talking negatively about themselves.

While being a maths teacher and boxing may seem worlds apart, my combat sports background came in handy while I was working at schools.

They all knew I boxed, they loved it, I would bribe them by letting them watch my fights, sparring or training if they did their work.

I ran boxing classes at both of the schools I worked at, once a week, for disengaged and troubled teens or anger management girls who were getting in fights to teach them self-love discipline and respect.

It was not until 2019 that I made my debut in professional boxing and it was not a cheap sport to get into, as I was forced to pay for opponents to fly over and fight me just to get my career up and running.

The closest country to Australia costs $400 return flights for each person, so when you fly three people over it ends up being quite expensive.

You're looking and $4500 to fly these opponents over with their teams and pay for their food allowances, visas, purse and all of this stuff you have to pay for.

EBANIE BRIDGES: I was teaching maths and paying people to fight me before winning world title and be (9)

This was just three years ago and no promoter puts that much money into a novice female boxer. There are more male fighters in the country, but there were only a handful of female fighters - not even in my weight class.

So, I didn't have that option to fight someone to get my experience up and we had to fight people from other countries and it was very expensive.

To be willing to spend this much money on a boxing career, I had to believe I was going somewhere and thankfully I have self-belief in abundance.

You need self-belief to be successful and I always believed in myself. I knew I wanted to be a world champion and I knew I was capable, because I knew how dedicated I was and my skills.

The reality of women's boxing is there isn't a big pool so it's not as unrealistic to become a world champion as in men's boxing. I'm very f***ing smart, so I always knew that, but I also knew I wouldn't get where I wanted by being a no-name in Australia who no one had ever heard of.

I've been a boxing fan my whole life and I know the politics of the sport. I'm not living in a bubble where I think I've just got to be good at boxing and I'll get where I want, it doesn't work like that.

EBANIE BRIDGES: I was teaching maths and paying people to fight me before winning world title and be (10)

I knew that boxing was a business and like any business you have to invest in yourself and social media is a free platform to promote your business and it connects you with the whole world. It was just common sense to me, if I want the opportunities I need to be seen and known and how do I do that, marketing.

A promoter like Eddie Hearn coming and signing someone for their debut happens to 1 per cent of people. It's rare that up and coming boxers don't have to go to small-hall shows in order to get their name out there and a mega promoter then snaps them up. So you need to be prepared to invest your time and money if you want to get anywhere with anything.

You have to spend money to make money, things don't happen overnight. I set myself a timeline of 1-2 years before I started making money and that's how long it took.

In the first year I snapped my ankle and I was out and the second year was COVID, but I was still investing. I was investing in my opponents but, crucially myself. I was travelling to Vegas to go to fights and have my face in Vegas, doing interviews. My thinking was, how am I going to be seen if I'm stuck in Australia?

Since then my career has taken off, I teamed up with trainer Mark Tibbs, who has trained Dillian Whyte and two-weight world champion Billy Joe Saunders, and he helped me become IBF bantamweight world champion.

In my most recent world title defence, I suffered a nasty hand injury that has kept me out of the ring, but when I do return, one fighter who has called me out is Avril Mathie.

EBANIE BRIDGES: I was teaching maths and paying people to fight me before winning world title and be (11) EBANIE BRIDGES: I was teaching maths and paying people to fight me before winning world title and be (12)

Mathie is a fellow Australian and OnlyFans star/boxer and she has taken a similar approach to marketing herself as me, wearing bikinis to her weigh-ins, having been crowned 2014 Miss Swimsuit USA International champion.

I love Avril, I think she’s great, honestly. She works really hard and I respect her for what she does, her hustle, her lifestyle and what she’s done.

I think it will be a great fight and it will definitely be crowd pleasing. I think our weigh-ins will break the internet!

In terms of a prediction for the fight if it happens, I don’t really see it going past the first four or five rounds, obviously with me winning...

I would like to give her that opportunity because I think she’s great and I think she deserves it.

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But whomever I fight, as long as I'm bashing b****es and training, I'll be happy.

Stay tuned for the next chapter...

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