ACROSS an incredible four-month window, Ebanie Bridges experienced a meteoric rise in boxing circles.
After her first win for the calendar year against Carol Earl in March, the math teacher packed her bags and headed from Sydney to London, stepping in as a short-notice replacement to face Shannon Courtenay for the WBA bantamweight title.
Although falling short in her maiden world title challenge, Bridges (7-1, 3 KOs) won a slew of new admirers with her gutsy display on the world stage, earning a promotional deal with global leaders Matchroom Boxing.
Having returned home after four fights abroad in just 177 days, Bridges opened up to Ben Damon about her staggering journey in the midst of a global pandemic.
“Everything happens for a reason, and that’s just my mindset,” she told the Main Event Boxing Podcast.
“I’m a big firm believer in manifestation, and I knew that it was possible. I never think anything is impossible, and I knew what I wanted to do and my goals, and I set those goals at the beginning of 2020.
“I set those goals to fight in the UK, to fight in front of the fans, you know, fight in Leeds. These are things I said I wanted to do… I wanted to do this and I’m going to do it.
“I mean I didn’t expect it to happen so fast, and like I’ve said, when I said I wanted to fight in the UK, which was a goal of mine… I wasn’t really expecting myself to have the cult following and huge fan-base that I have in that short time.”
In her most recent outing, the 35-year-old outpointed a lively Mailys Gangloff in Leeds, featuring on the live broadcast from Headingley Rugby League Stadium, topped by fan favourite Josh Warrington.
Bridges battled through a broken hand to secure her seventh professional victory, to the delight of the Leeds faithful, who have adopted the Sydney native as one of their own.
“Walking out to a stadium of fans, chanting for me, singing with me. That was a thrill for me,” she explained.
“I just soaked it up, you could see me walking out, I just loved that… that was a cool event, that was mad. I had fans giving me presents and stuff, I love that stuff. I’m all about the entertainment and making the fans happy.
“I think that’s why I have such a strong cultish fan-base, because I’m really for the fans. As a person, you know when you’re appreciated, and I think the fans know I appreciate them.”
Initially, Bridges gained notoriety through social media, using her cinematic approach to her weigh-ins as a way to attract followers from across the world.
And as the numbers have shown, Bridges is a genuine needle mover, replicating the same fanfare and interest as some of boxing’s elite operators.
“My social media growth, it is a big side, it is a boxing media, but it’s also mainstream,” she continued.
“I think that’s the key here, you don’t have to be a boxing fan to know who the Blonde Bomber is.
“I think considering I’m a little Aussie girl, I’m doing alright there as well. I feel like that’s the difference, the boxing industry is quite small, and especially women’s boxing is very niche.
“The fact I have a name outside of that is big… I think that shows a lot as well, the consumers.”
Like any athlete that has experienced success, Bridges has her share of detractors as well. But as the hard-hitting bantamweight admits, it all comes with the territory.
In her case, and with a significant sample size, the data simply speaks for itself.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve done things my way,” she said.
“I’ve paved my own path, I’ve walked my own journey and I’ve got where I am doing it my way. I think that I’ve also opened up doors, I’m not talking about lingerie, or even my self promotion.
“Showing a different way, and showing that if you actually get up and put the work in… you make things happen. This is 2021, I’m using social media.
“People want to sit back and they don’t want to do these things, and I get it, not everyone has this in them.
“But you also can’t sit back and complain and whinge, and that no one knows who you are and that you’re not making any money… unfortunately boxing, especially these days, is a popularity contest.
“It’s all about how many bums you put on seats.”
Now a riding a two-fight winning streak, Bridges is hopeful her alignment with Matchroom will make an eventual rematch with WBA titleholder Courtenay a reality.
Although it isn’t an immediate concern, Bridges sees the silver lining from their memorable ten-round display.
“A lot of people tuned into that fight,” she concluded.
“There was so many positive messages and tweets, inboxes that I got. In particular, the ones that mean a lot to me, are the people that changed their tune and admitted, we didn’t think much of Ebanie Bridges… but boy did she prove us wrong tonight.
“It was those kinds of messages from people who were really satisfying for me. The more people that can change their mind and be more open towards women’s boxing… and now they’re fans of women’s boxing.
“Me and Courtenay did a good thing with that fight.”
Photo: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing