Croydon, London UK July 2001
The M.C. coughed into his microphone and tapped it with his index finger, making it whistle and hum. “And now, ladies and gentlemen, we come to tonight’s penultimate event; 10 rounds of boxing, introducing, in the red corner, from Maidstone, Kent, wearing white shorts and white top and weighing in at 128lbs, Miss Nikki Martin! Nikki strode to the centre of the ring, acknowledging the raucous cheers and whistles from the mainly male audience who clearly enjoyed the sight of her shimmering satin shorts and white bikini style top and the way they showed off her stunning, toned but shapely body. Joan, Nikki’s manager, trainer and friend had told her she should not be afraid to “show some flesh” and put on a show for the spectators; promoters, she said, were always looking for good boxers, but good boxers who were also good lookers were always in high demand!
Returning to her corner Nikki watched as her opponent entered the ring. “And in the blue corner, weighing 140 lbs. wearing all black, from South London, the Bexley Bomber, Lady Linda Hamilton!” The Bomber glared out at the crowd, snarling at the chorus of boos and jeers as she paraded round the ring. Now 38 years old, Linda Hamilton had been boxing and wrestling for nearly 20 years and had held the Southern Area Championship Belt on 2 occasions, the last time in 1992; The Bexley Bomber was still a formidable fighter and certainly no Lady! Joan had accepted the match knowing that it would be Nikki’s toughest challenge yet, a real step up in class and also her biggest purse! Nikki was a superb technician in the ring and Joan believed her skill, speed and youth would be too much for the heavier, slower, less mobile “Bomber”.
From across the ring the black clad woman stared menacingly at her younger, smaller and very attractive foe, and shouted, “I’m gonna smash you, pretty girl! I’ll make you sorry you stepped in my ring!”
Called to the centre the two boxers were given their instructions and told to touch gloves. Bomber brought hers down hard, but Nikki was too quick and pulled away, much to the woman’s anger and the crowd’s amusement!
“Remember” said Joan as she massaged Nikki’s calves, “Keep moving, use the jab, and go for her body! She’s strong, but her stamina’s suspect. Remember, Jab, move, body!”
Nikki was already off her stool as the bell sounded for round one and moved out fast and The Bomber had got no more than 4 steps from her corner when she was met with a bewilderingly fast combination of punches which she seemed to have no defence against! The crowd roared as Nikki’s quick hands peppered the Bombers face and body, not really hurting, but certainly stinging the startled woman!
The Bomber finally seemed to respond and managed to get her jab going, but Nikki was already skipping away, dancing lightly out of reach of the pawing fist. The Bomber, her upper body moving from side to side, looked almost cumbersome as she followed her fleet footed opponent around the ring, her lunging jab missing its target by some distance. On her toes, Nikki came in again, her own jab crisp and sharp, and Bomber grunted as it rammed into her face but shrugged it off, swinging her lethal right, her most potent weapon!
Joan had warned Nikki about the Bombers “bomb” so, keeping her distance, Nikki was happy to see the big punch fall well short of its target.
Two thirds through the round Nikki swayed away from a vicious left hook, stepped neatly inside and fired a wicked punch into The Bombers ribs. The Bombers guard dropped and she reeled and was caught with a peach of a left to her jaw! Nikki hit the woman again with a scything right hook and Bomber staggered! The crowd was on their feet, screaming for the stunningly lovely girl in white to finish the Bomber off but the older woman’s experience and ring savvy stood her in good stead as she covered up against Nikki’s onslaught and clinched until the referee pulled them apart and then stared hard into the Bombers eyes.
The crowd was incensed, feeling that Bomber had been let off the hook! At the signal to box on Nikki moved in again, expecting to end it, but The Bomber had been able to clear her head and, as Nikki rushed in she found herself once again wrapped up in Bombers strong arms. The referee prized the two women apart again but, as he did so, Bomber unleashed a heavy left catching Nikki square on her breast! The crowd yelled in anger and Bomber was given a stern talking to about clinching and punching on the break and then the bell ended the round.
Nikki sat on her stool as Joan attended to her. “Are you ok, Nikki? That was a good round! You hurt her but remember, she’s dangerous!” “I know!” replied Nikki, gently rubbing her sore breast. “Keep to the plan, jab and move and hit her in the belly!”
Nikki nodded and took a deep breath then left her stool for round two.
The Bomber came out of her corner with more urgency, meeting Nikki in the centre of the ring. She snarled at the youngster, “How’s your tit, pretty girl?” throwing out her powerful jab in quick succession. Nikki caught it on her gloves, moving back and to her left. Bomber drove on, weaving her head from side to side, probing Nikki’s guard. A notorious slow starter, The Bomber usually came back strong after the opening round or two and was then at her most dangerous. The majority of her fights didn’t go the distance, ending in knock outs or stoppages around the 5th or 6th rounds; after that her stamina began to drain and her opponents would begin to wear her down, if she hadn’t stopped them already.
Nikki flashed out her jab, keeping The Bomber at bay, and looked for an opening, but, her gloves up high and her elbows in tight to her ribs, bobbing and weaving, the experienced, cagey Bomber was a hard target to hit. Dancing and skipping lightly across the already sweat soaked canvas Nikki threw her quick combinations in sharp clusters of 4, 5 and 6 punches and then retreated behind her stinging jab, but, finding her range, the Bomber began methodically stalking after her, gradually closing down the ring and cutting down Nikki’s space until, with a triumphant gleam in her eyes she backed her elusive young opponent against the ropes. Nikki kept her guard tight and caught most of The Bombers punches on her gloves and arms, but it was inevitable that some got through.
“Move Nikki!” Joan yelled at her, “Get off the ropes!” but as she went to side step away The Bomber threw her back and pounded her belly and breasts forcing Nikki’s jaw to sag and gloves to fall uselessly to her sides! With a murderous glint in her eyes, The Bexley Bomber took a step back in order to get better leverage for her signature punch, her infamous “bomb!” but in that split second Nikki threw herself backwards, riding the heavy, looping right hander which hit her just below her left ear! Bells rang in Nikki’s head and stars flashed before her eyes; she had never been hit with such power! Shook to her very core Nikki clung on desperately, throwing her arms around The Bombers waist and holding for all she was worth! Enraged, The Bomber pushed her away and Nikki reeled across the ring, her arms flailing as she tried to stay on her feet! The crowd was up again, screaming for Nikki to fight back, run, or even go down, but it was all the disorientated girl could do just to survive! Ominously, The Bomber closed in, moving into position to finish the fight with one big punch and Nikki, her green eyes staring and unfocused, was like a rabbit caught in a cars headlights! Another left slammed into Nikki’s guts and she staggered, legs barely supporting her, head lolling drunkenly, and The Bomber stepped in!
There was no doubt that the bell had saved Nikki, but she never even heard it! She had been defenseless as The Bomber cocked her big right hand, her eyes shining in jubilation; but The Bombers glee turned to surprise then anger as the bell clanged and the referee stepped in fast, pushing her away, well aware of her tendency to hit after the bell!
Joan ran from the corner and helped Nikki back to her stool, knowing she had less than a minute to resuscitate the stricken girl! The referee came over and said, “How is she? Do you want to call it off?” Not expecting an answer, and not getting one he continued, “I’ll give her a chance, but I’ll stop it if I have to!” Joan nodded and kept on working on the still dazed Nikki, using all her experience and know-how to revive her!
“Look in my eyes, look in my eyes! She hit you with her best shot, but you took it Nikki, you took it! You’re a fighter, a fighter!” Joan splashed cold water in Nikki’s face and then began slapping her in an effort to bring her round. Slowly, Nikki’s head began to clear and the buzzing in her ears stopped and she murmured, “What did she hit me with, Joan, a hammer?” Joan grinned and kissed her, so relieved was she that Nikki was alright! The referee appeared again, “10 seconds, ladies. You ok?” he said, looking at Nikki closely and, returning his stare she replied, “I’m fine.”
Round three began with Nikki shamelessly staying out of harms way as she used the entire ring to dance and skip out of The Bombers reach; by the halfway mark she had still to throw a punch other than flicking her jab out, but she hadn’t taken any either which was her main concern! The Bomber was happy to take a breather too having thrown a lot of punches the previous round; she was confident that one more big “bomb” would be enough, and was prepared to wait.
Some people at ringside were unhappy with the lack of action and began jeering, showing their displeasure, but others were fascinated. Before tonight, few of them had seen Nikki box but her growing reputation sold the fight and convinced the promoters to put her on just before the evenings main bout, and the fact that there was an element of “Beauty and The Beast” about it had helped too!
After round three, the ringside judges had Nikki slightly ahead but there wasn’t much in it. They had all given her the 1st round and Linda the 2nd, but the 3rd round was split with two marking it as a draw and the other going with Nikki again.
Joan was pleased. Nikki had shown experience beyond her years in out boxing her tough, far more experienced opponent and coming away from round three unscathed, even if she had not thrown a worth while punch herself. Nikki had needed those 3 minutes to regain her composure and confidence.
Massaging Nikki’s shoulders Joan grinned and said;“Well done, good round! Now it’s time to go on the attack! She’ll be expecting you to run again but you’re going to surprise her; she might have the power but you’ve got the moves Nikki! She wants to nail you with that big right of hers, but she needs room to throw it. Keep moving to her left, jab and move, then cut back and hit her under her right! When she drops it, go for the head!”
Round four was Nikki’s best by far, the best in fact that Joan had ever seen her box. The Bomber was unable to use her right to any real effect as Nikki kept turning the woman, not allowing her to gain leverage, forcing the ever more frustrated Bomber to throw short, less powerful punches which Nikki simply stepped away from, hitting her tiring opponent with hard blows to her ribs! Before long The Bomber was reduced to fighting with her right elbow tucked into her side as her belly and ribs took more and more punishment. Her face was marked by Nikki’s fast, accurate jabs and each time she dropped her gloves Nikki scored with hard lefts to the head. There were no more jeers from the crowd now! They watched spell bound as The Bomber was picked off almost at will by her skillful, brave, tough and very beautiful opponent!
At the back of the hall, Helen Norwood sat with her husband, James, highly impressed with Nikki’s performance. Seven months ago Nikki had boxed in one of the Norwood’s highly regarded Bloxham Manor Fight Nights, beating the popular Janet Rickerby, and Helens experienced eyes could see how much she had improved. Taking on the experienced and dangerous Linda Hamilton was a bold move, and Helen knew from her own painful experience just how good The Bomber was having fought her on 2 occasions for the Southern Area Championship Belt.
The last match had been 10 years ago and Helen, in her last fight before announcing her retirement, had stopped Bomber in the 8th round retaining the title. The Bomber went on to win the belt for the 2nd time two years later. Helen knew the Bomber wasn’t the fighter she had been back then, but for a young boxer just starting out she remained a formidable challenge. James too was impressed. A long time enthusiast of women’s combat, he could appreciate that, with her sublime skill and technique combined with her stunning good looks, Nikki Martin a crowd pleaser, not unlike Helen had once been.
Nikki got to her feet for round five with the excited crowd standing and cheering their approval of her superb demolition of Linda Hamilton; The Bexley Bomber had been totally out boxed, bewildered and bamboozled by Nikki’s speed and movement and made to look like a clumsy novice, uncoordinated and unbalanced compared to the younger woman’s lively, nimble foot work.
Weary and discouraged The Bomber came out to meet Nikki who was on her instantly with her fast, effective jab. Blinking and flinching as Nikki’s glove flicked with unerring accuracy into her face The Bomber turned away, her arms flailing and Nikki switched her attack to the body! The Bomber groaned as Nikki’s fists ripped into her and she reeled as a fierce left smashed her rib cage!
As The Bombers hands dropped to protect her body Nikki turned to her head, catching the floundering Bomber with heavy punches which sent sweat and blood spraying through the air! Finally, overwhelmed by Nikki’s consummate skills, The weary Bomber dropped to her knees gasping as the referee started his count! Taking every second the badly hurt woman breathed the hot, humid air into her aching lungs and, at “9!” got up on unsteady legs. The referee gazed long and hard but, using all her experience and know how, The Bomber passed his scrutiny, and, after wiping off her gloves, he signaled “box on” but this time the bell came to The Bombers rescue!
Joan applied some grease to a slight swelling below Nikki’s right eye and wiped her down with the wet sponge. “You can finish it next round, Nikki, she’s had enough! She’ll have to come out swinging, hoping to catch you early. Keep boxing and I reckon by mid way through her corner will have thrown in the towel! You’re doing marvelously love!”
Sure enough, The Bomber came out all guns blazing in a desperate attempt to turn the tide and Nikki was once more forced onto the back foot as her opponent swung at her with all her strength! Any one of the powerful, wild roundhouse punches would have sent her into oblivion, but Nikki stayed out of reach, her quick footwork keeping her out of harms way. As The Bomber began to tire her head was rocked back again and again by Nikki’s ever present jab and, as Nikki seemed to move up another gear. Grimacing as a short right thumped into her belly,
The Bomber tried to clinch but wicked looking left sank deep into her ribs and her legs nearly gave way! Badly hurt she tried to grab Nikki but Nikki stepped back and launched a tremendous uppercut which exploded against The Bombers jaw and she crashed to the canvas! Again the referee began to count but by “5” it was clear The Bomber wasn’t going to get up and, as the referee finished counting, Nikki threw her arms into the air, jumping with joy as the crowd yelled and cheered her name! Running to her corner Nikki hugged the delighted Joan who lifted her victorious fighter into the air! Then, after waving to the cheering crowd Nikki went over to The Bombers corner and shook her hand, holding it up for the crowd to show their appreciation. Blood splattered, bruised and weary, The Bomber held Nikki and then raised her into the air as the crowd roared its approval!
“And now, to present the winners cheque please give a warm welcome to Croydon’s very own Battling Blonde, Helen Norwood!” Joan stared in surprise, not knowing that Helen had even been present and wondered what she was doing there, miles from her Bloxham Manor home. Climbing through the ropes Helen went to the M.C. and took his microphone.
Looking stunning in leather trousers, cream silk blouse, beautifully tailored beige jacket and black high heels, Helen paraded round the ring elegantly.
“Thank you for welcoming me here tonight, it’s good to be back in a ring in my home town! What a great fight! My old rival and friend, Linda, The Bexley Bomber, did her best and most nights that would have been enough to give her the win, but I think she’ll be the first to admit she was well beaten tonight! So please put your hands together for a brave fighter!” As cheers and whistles rang out Helen sashayed over to The Bombers corner, smiling, and said in a catty voice “Don’t you think it’s time you took up knitting, Linda? That kid made you look pathetic! Perhaps you’d like me to beat you up again and show everybody that you’re a sad old, washed up bitch!” Laughing as the crushed woman’s head hung in shame, Helen taunted, Hahaha! I thought not!”
Returning to the centre of the Helen continued. “Tonight we saw a superb performance by a young woman who till recently was virtually unknown, so please show your appreciation for Nikki Martin!” Amid stamping and shouting Nikki took her cheque along with a beautiful piece of crystal ware and held them aloft. “Well done Nikki” said Helen, and kissed her lightly on the cheek, “I hope one day we meet in the ring in and swap kisses for punches!”
In their changing room Joan gave Nikki a rub down, kneading the tense, aching muscles in her back and shoulders and massaging in soothing, pungent oil. Soon there was knock on the door and as Joan went to answer Nikki sat up and wrapped a large towel around her naked body. Without waiting to be invited Helen and James Norwood pushed past the indignant Joan, ignoring her protests.
“Great fight, Nikki sweetheart!” gushed James, his eyes roving hungrily over Nikki’s nearly nude body! “Helen and I have something for you, don’t we Helen?” “Yes, and I hope you accept it in the manner in which it’s offered!” said Helen, casting Joan a hate filled glance. “In this envelope” she continued, “is your invitation and appearance fee for the Bloxham Manor Champions Weekend in September! We think you’ve earned the right to start competing against better class opponents and mixing with a better class of people. There’ll be some top promoters there Nikki and if you do as well as you did tonight they’ll be fighting to sign you up!”
Joan was suspicious, but could see Nikki was excited by the offer. They could discuss it later, she thought. “That’s good of you, but Nikki’s tired. We’ll get back to you tomorrow; right now Nikki needs to rest.” Helen smirked and said, “That’s fine, Joan, but take the envelope anyway Nikki” As she turned to go Helen remarked, “I’m sure Joan will decide what’s in your best interests Nikki!” James, after a final, lingering, lecherous stare, followed his wife out the door.
Nikki stared at the amount on the cheque and said, “It’s a great opportunity, Joan, but if you think it’s too soon, its fine with me.” Joan smiled and said, “Later. Now, let’s have a look at that eye!”
As she tended to Nikki’s cut Joan had plenty to think about; the offer of bigger fights, better promotions and more money would seem very tempting to Nikki, but what did Helen Norwood want in return?