Stratford boxer Miriam Zouhou goes professional after signing deal with Birmingham manager Jon Pegg
PERFECTIONIST Miriam Zouhou is on the next step towards her dream of making a name for herself in the world of boxing after turning professional, declaring: “My knuckles are itching for their professional debut”.
The 22-year-old from Stratford has lived and breathed the sport since her very first taster session at Stratford & District Boxing Academy as a young schoolgirl – and now she is looking forward to the next stage of her career after signing a deal with well-known Birmingham manager Jon Pegg.
Just by speaking to Zouhou you can tell that she doesn’t lack confidence in herself to go on to bigger and better things – and while she has her eyes firmly set on reaching the top, the former Stratford School student knows it’s about taking “baby steps” first and not running before you can walk.
“I’m a very ambitious person and there are titles out there that I know I can win, but it will be a case of taking baby steps first,” she told the Herald.
“Because I’m going to be fighting at the minimum weight and there are not many women in this category in England, I’m going to have to look at bringing people in from abroad.
“My aim is to win European and Commonwealth titles before going on to win a World title – and I believe I can do that. It might sound arrogant, but I think I have what it takes to win those titles.”
The former King Edward VI School sixth form student added: “I’m just really excited to get in the ring and showcase what I can do.
“I’m not in this to make money, I’m in it because I want win things and, quite simply, because I want to box.
“My knuckles are itching for their professional debut.”
Since joining Stratford Boxing Academy, Zouhou has been indebted to the support of trainer Mat Pickering and described the club as a close-knit family.
“Mat, who does what he does as a volunteer, has always been there for us no matter what,” she said.
“Everyone is pushing one another and it’s like a little family, I know that sounds a little cliched, but it’s true.
“Personally, I have always been a sporty person and I feel like the support Mat has given me cannot be matched compared to other sports I have tried.
“I know it’s going to sound weird, but I enjoy punching people as well as getting punched hard – and I think that’s the kind of attitude you need in boxing.”
Zouhou, who recently graduated from Birmingham City University with a degree in sports science, has always been a student of the game.
She has also represented England as well as winning gold in the Three Nations tournament, and it’s those kind of experiences which led Zouhou to start focussing on the next step and turning professional.
“Turning professional is something that I had been thinking about for more than a year now,” she said.
“Me and Mat had known at 48kg there was no Olympic weight and there was only so much you could do representing England, so turning professional seemed the logical next step.
"I want to win big things and I believe I am more than good enough to be a professional boxer.”
Many people may not know that Zouhou is actually the first female that Pegg has ever signed a professional deal with.
“John is well-known in the boxing community and I’m really looking to working with him and he’s excited by the opportunity,” she said.
“It might be seen as a risk with me being his first female boxer, but it’s also exciting and I think it’s the right direction to go for me.”
Zouhou, who described herself as a perfectionist when it came to training and sparring, is definitely one to watch for the future and she hopes to emulate the likes of Katie Taylor and Nicola Adams, both of whom have gone on to achieve huge success in the sport.
“What Katie Taylor has done for the sport is phenomenal and I think she’s someone even male boxers can look up to,” she said.
“Her work ethic and skill is amazing.
“She has done so much for women’s boxing, but I think there’s so many female boxers out there that you can take inspiration from.
“I’m never one to look at the heavyweights, I always look out for those who were amateur and been on undercards before going on to turn professional – and it’s nice to see that growth.
“Golden girl Nicola Adams has done a lot of things for the sport and there’s the likes of Chantelle Cameron and Lisa Whiteside.”
So when Zouhou eventually gets to make her professional bow, what should people expect to see?
“I have got a very good engine, hard work rate and can push my opponent right from the very start,” she said.
“I like to take charge when I’m in the ring and I’m very good on my feet. I’m very technical and I’d like to show that off more.
“I’ve added a lot of tools to my belt and working on lots more to help me improve as a boxer.”
Zouhou is on the lookout for sponsors and anyone who wants to provide support should email her directly at email@example.com.