World Thai-Boxing Champion Rachael Mackenzie paid a visit to Ripon VX Club recently, in her role as athlete mentor for Sky Sports.
Rachael only started Thai-Boxing in 2000 but in 2006, she topped the Women’s Thai-Boxing World Rankings in two weight categories – 50kg and 52kg.
Rachael has also taken two British titles, both by knockout and a European title.
She became the first European woman to compete in traditional bare-knuckle Thai-Boxing in Thailand and the first woman to fight under full Muay-Thai Rules in the UK.
Throughout her Thai-Boxing career, Rachael has had to overcome prejudice from people who do not believe women should compete in contact sports. Her success and perseverance have helped Rachael to improve the profile of, and opportunities for, female Thai-Boxers.
It was particularly fitting that Rachael went to the Ripon Club’s VX session, as VX is a sport that is totally gender-neutral – males and females compete on an equal footing at all levels in all disciplines.
The visit was arranged by Ripon Grammar School’s Helen Mackenzie, who is running a Sky Sports project and Rachael’s visit was part of that.
Rachael was introduced to the players and had photos taken with them and her title belt.
After the photos she ran a group Boxercise fitness session before the young players introduced her to their sport.
Helen said: “What a rip-roaring success.
“All the children were excited about Rachael’s visit and they got an awful lot out of it – and most importantly, they thoroughly enjoyed it.
“They were really enthusiastic in the Boxercise and loved introducing Rachael to VX.”
For her part, Rachael enjoyed meeting the young players and trying her hand at VX.
“It was brilliant, fun to play and such a brilliant idea for inclusive, physical sport,” she said.
“Every school should play.”
VX – formerly Rock-It-ball – is a fast, new and rapidly spreading ball sport which was designed and developed in North Yorkshire during 2005.
It has been implemented in primary and secondary schools across the UK and is making inroads into prisons and leisure centres.
The Ripon VX Club is based at the National Centre of Xcellence at Ripon Grammar School and is coached by England captain Tom Hildreth.
The club trains Thursdays from 6pm to 7.30pm.