Meet Miriam Zouhou, England boxer and sports science student at the University of Birmingham. Defining herself in more ways than one, Miriam lets us into life in the boxing ring, as well as everything else that has made her into who she is….
Tell us about your passion…
I’ve always been sporty as a child. Then I heard about a boxing club near my house and that it would be good to keep fit. I’d always thought boxing was for boys and it was aggressive. When I went to the gym, everything changed. I realised I was ignorant to what the sport offers and I fell in love with it. Boxing makes me feel strong, determined and like I can achieve whatever I put my mind to. Some days are tough, but you get through them. It’s impossible to put into words.
What are people’s reactions when they find out that you’re a boxer?
Most people are surprised. They say, you’re too pretty or too small to be a boxer. Or they ask multiple times, “What, like real boxing? Do you get hit in the face?!”.
What do you think you have gained or learnt from boxing?
It has given me confidence; if you can get in that ring then you can do anything. There aren’t many things that are tougher than stepping through the ropes. It had made me independent as you have to do a lot on your own. It has given me a second home and a second family.
What makes you feel like you?
I always wear a small pair of studs or tiny hoop earrings (though I lose a pair almost every week). I like to wear a small necklace as well, although I have to take these off when sparring. The boxing club is where I feel the most comfortable, and buzz you get when you’re in the ring is one you can’t describe. When you’re fighting, I hear nothing but my coach, it’s like you’re in a bubble. I also like going to the pub with my friends, or spending time with my family, listening to music, and having a dance.
How would you describe your style?
My style is quite simple and practical, I like wearing jumpsuits and jeans with Converse day-to-day. Nothing too stand-out, though I do like having some bright colours.
How does your look change?
I usually carry a bigger bag or rucksack in the week to carry all my stuff but on the weekends, I carry a small bag big enough for essentials. I do love to dress up in a sparkly dress and heels when I get the chance, though it doesn’t happen enough!
How would your close friends and family describe you?
Hardworking, funny, helpful, moody and exasperating! They’d also say that I don’t give up on things until they’re finished.
What surprises people about you?
That I can be so “scary” in the ring when my personality is so “sunny”.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t sweat the small stuff and always have a positive attitude. And to remember that everyone makes mistakes.