Billie-Jean Franks, 16, is a female youth amateur boxer at Larches and Savick Boxing Academy in Preston, a member of the England Boxing Youth Squad, national youth silver medallist and the 2015 North West youth 51kg champion.
I started getting into boxing through a keep fit thing near where I live at Hard Knocks gym with Paul David. Paul helped me to start boxing just over 18 months ago. I found that I loved hitting the punch-bag. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I joined Kirkham Boxing Club, where I had my first competitive fight three months later. I won that fight and loved the feeling of winning too; there is nothing else like it.
Larches and Savick in Preston is where I now box and where I met my current coach, Dave Fitzgerald, the father and coach of GB Podium Boxer and Commonwealth gold medallist Scott Fitzgerald. Dave is also the coach of World silver medallist Lisa Whiteside as well as Head England Juniors coach, so I believe I am in the best possible hands.
Dave has obviously had a big influence on my boxing since I’ve been working with him, as have Mark Barker my strength and conditioning coach and Stuart How, my NLP coach, but I couldn’t do any of the training or competing if it wasn’t for my dad. He spends every spare penny on my boxing and takes me up and down the country for fights, squads and competitions.
By far the biggest challenge I have faced in the short time I have been competing is the expense. Everything costs so much and there is barely any investment available. My dad spends nearly everything on getting me to shows, squads, competitions and training. We don’t have a car so we go by train everywhere. Last month alone we covered over 1,400 miles getting to and from shows and competitions.
Despite those barriers, after 19 months of boxing I am now an England Youth Squad member, national and GB silver medallist, North West champion and have just been invited to train with the GB emerging talent squad. I am starting college in September on the AASE Elite Boxing Academy course for two years and I want to win everything. My aim is to be a Commonwealth and Olympic champion.
My current sponsor, friend and new British Lightweight Champion, Scotty Cardle, is a massive inspiration for me. He has supported me and sponsored me ever since we met in Kirkham. I have loved watching him rise from Central Area Champion to English Champion and now British Champion.
Gennady Golovkin, Manny Pacquiao and specifically Lisa Whiteside – the current number one 51kg female boxer in the UK and number 2 in the world – are all boxers I look up to and hope to one day match too.
In the future after boxing I would like to have my own boxing gym and stay involved by coaching and give something back to the sport.
But right now, I’m focussed on performing to the best of my ability and pursuing my dreams to one day become a Commonwealth and Olympic champion.
Billie-Jean is currently looking for funding to enable her to continue competing at the highest level. To find out more, visit: http://www.gofundme.com/billiejeanboxing
To see Billie-Jean’s recent appearance on ITV Local news, visit: http://www.itv.com/news/granada/update/2015-04-16/boxing-buddies-meet-the-best-friends-picked-to-represent-their-country/