Australian boxing world champion Ebanie Bridges has dropped in on the Sydney gym where her pugilistic career started, giving her former trainer the shock of his life.
The England-based ‘Blonde Bomber’, 35, has returned to Australia for whirlwind visit and decided to drop in on trainer Arnel Barotillo at Barotillo Boxing in the city’s north-west.
Bridges says the former world-ranked fighter, who took on the likes of boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, is a big reason why she has been able to hit the heights of the sport.
‘Arnell is like my boxing dad,’ Bridges told Daily Mail Australia.
‘He was my coach for the first four or five years of my career. We did my first world title fight together. He was in my corner for that.
IBF world bantamweight champion Ebanie Bridges dropped in on the Sydney gym where it all started and caught up with her ‘boxing dad’, Arnel Barotillo (pictured together)
Bridges explained that Barotillo is the first coach who took her seriously
‘He’s always supported me – I will always be forever grateful. He was the first coach to take me seriously and taught me that hard-a**, no-quit mentality that I have.’
Bridges also revealed that her nickname also comes from Barotillo.
‘I adopted the name from him,’ she said.
‘All the amateurs in the gym take on the “Bomber” name. We are ‘Barotillo Bombers’.
‘At some point people started calling me “The Blonde Bomber” – and it stuck.
‘When I turned pro I took the name with me – and I like that I can carry on that legacy.
‘If it wasn’t for him believing in me when nobody else did, I wouldn’t be where I am.’
Arnel says Bridges trained exceptionally hard when she arrived at his gym and fondly remembers the time he asked one of the male fighters to spar hard with her before an upcoming fight.
‘I asked my student, Kyle, who was about her weight, to go hard,’ he said.
The Aussie world champ took her ‘Bomber’ nickname from the gym Barotillo runs
Bridges says if it wasn’t for Barotillo, she wouldn’t be where she is today
Barotillo is very proud that his student has reached the heights of the sport he loves
‘I said to him that if she can take your punch she will be OK. After the first round Ebanie comes back to me in the corner saying, “He’s trying to kill me! He’s trying to knock me!”‘
‘I told her she would be OK – and she was.
‘Now she’s a world champion. She did it.’
Arnel says his former student’s non-nonsense, all-action style of boxing suits her – but it’s not for everyone.
‘It works for her because most of her opponents are taller than her and she’s really good at going forward – so my job is to help her perfect that,’ he explained.
‘But everybody is different. Ebanie has perfected that style. She can fight. She can knock people out.’
Bridges now serves as an inspiration to other women who have taken up the sport at Barotillo’s gym (pictured)
Bridges says one of the most satisfying things about being back at Barotillo’s gym is seeing all the young women who have taken up the sport.
‘There’s a lot of girls there now and they all look up to me.’ she said.
‘I’ve seen a lot of them growing up over the years. I visit whenever I’m back in the country.
‘It’s just so good to see.’
Bridges also took time out to visit her mum and dad when she hit Sydney – but cheekily didn’t tell them she was coming and recorded the hilarious moment her father opened the door of their family home.
In typical Aussie fashion, a shocked Mr Bridges greeted her with the words, ‘What the f**k!’ before hugging her and calling the surprise reunion ‘unbelievable’.
Source: Daily Mail Online