I was saving lives Covid battle… but now I’m cleaning up boxing’s lightweight division fighting for world titles
RHIANNON DIXON spent the Covid saga saving lives in hospital scrubs but now wants to help clean up the lightweight division and win a boxing world title.
The Warrington prospect, 28, clinched the respected European title on Saturday night, at Wembley Arena, in just her ninth pro fight.
The southpaw only recently turned professional, after working as a pharmacist and often arriving at trainer Anthony Crolla’s gym in the iconic NHS uniform during the most desperate times in lockdown.
Dixon only started jabbing people with her fists for fun, to help her lose weight and keep fit, but now she is considered a bonafide boxing talent who will push for one of the top belts in 2024.
It’s been a dramatic turnaround for the life-saver-turned-fighter but she’s loving the drastic transformation.
She explained to SunSport: “During Covid, professional fighters were allowed to train but I was still working full time so would do shifts at my hospital, on the Covid wards, and then go straight to the gym for training.
“It was a really hard time because it was going from one extreme to the other. I would be helping sick people all day and then hearing some people in the news claim it was all fake.
“Training became a great stress reliever and I know I was very lucky because a lot of other people were furloughed or lost their jobs while I was doing overtime in both jobs.
“But when all that ended I thought I decided, you’re only young once and that I should focus on training full time so I don’t have any regrets later in life. And now we’re off and we will see where we end up.”
Boxing’s fiercest critics are often people from the medical profession, heroes who treat brain injuries every day and detest the idea that healthy men and women are risking their lives for sport.
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But Dixon – who comes from a super-sporty family with a PE-teaching sister and a rugby league pro in brother Andrew – has never had to beat-up her conscience as well as her opponent.
“We are very well protected with our pre-fight medicals and annual brain scans,” Dixon said.
“The British Boxing Board of Control does really look after us in that sense.
“I have never been conflicted about working in medicine and being a boxer.
“I am nice and friendly outside of the ring, I am very caring person in work and normal life. But when I get in the ring I am just different.”
There is, however, one aspect of the hurt business that does turn Dixon’s stomach.
“I hate the ring walk,” she laughed. “I just find them so cringe.
“I wouldn’t mind entering like the Undertaker wrestler, no music, lights go off and when they switch back on I am in the ring and ready.”
Dixon is being expertly guided by one of Britain’s most popular retired world champions.
Million Dollar Crolla was a boy-next-door boxer who clinched the WBA lightweight world title in 2015 front of his adoring Manchester home crowd with a slick back-and-sides and a close shave.
But, in his new role as mentor to a young stable of rising talent, he has grown flowing locks and added a goatee beard that Dixon has learned to love – slowly!
She said: “In the beginning I was very anti-long hair on boys but now he has got it shaped he looks cool.
“He shaved his goatee off the other day and looked like a child but he is growing into that ‘older man’ look.
“He’s been there and done it all but still gives his time to everyone, he took me on when I was nowhere but he has been my No1 fan all the time.
“It shows what sort of character he is and I cannot thank him enough.”
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