Charlie Webster says it's time to end discrimination in sport and explains why more women should box.
Last Updated: 08/03/12 8:58am
Female presenter, female boxer, female comedian; I would love one day for the 'female' to be eliminated from those descriptions.
How about this? A presenter, a boxer, a comedian - surely we should define a person by their skill, dedication and talent irrespective of their sex?
I was taught to always strive to be the best I could be. My Granddad taught me to always stand up for what I believe in and what I know is right.
I've lost count of the number of times that I've had to apologise for what I enjoy and justify my passions. I love football, sorry about that; I love boxing and am an amateur boxer, sorry for that; I'm a sports presenter who runs marathons, let me just apologise again. Surely I should be shopping or something? (My pet hate, by the way, is shopping!) My Grandma taught me to believe in myself as my confidence and self-esteem was always a problem.
I was on a sports panel last year - the only female out of five people. A member of the audience asked me what it's like working in a 'man's world.' I answered in a hopefully positive and inspiring way.
The host then suggested I should be off making the tea, and then sniggered. I couldn't actually believe he had the audacity. You can imagine what I felt like doing to him. My boxing coach says I have a decent jab! But also can you imagine how that comment made me feel inside? Pretty rubbish, deflated and a like a second-rate citizen.
My favourite question that I get asked is 'do I box, box?' That's not a typo, I get asked whether I box, box as opposed to box. Last time I checked you either box or you don't, whether you're male or female.
I wish more females were encouraged to get into boxing; the physical benefits are incredible, it helps get rid of stress, improves confidence and gives a sense of self-worth and belief.
My mates find it pretty funny; I have a habit of turning up having been training either running or boxing with my rucksack on my back, bottle of water in hand and having had an old-fashioned wash!
The ABAE has just started the Women's Box Series and female boxing will be in the Olympics for the first time ever.
It is a shame that so many attitudes are still so negative towards females and sport though.
Another thing I used to get asked a lot was whether I actually liked football. I got asked this while I was sat at a football game. My first football game was at the age of four, I had a Sheffield United season ticket as a kid, I have my level 2 FA coaching badges, I write a column on football and I was the first live female football presenter in Asia and presented live Premier League football for two years. Now do you see what I mean about having to justify my hobbies, my passion and what I enjoy?
There are so many amazing female role models out there.
These include: my mum who did the Gherkin step challenge with me last week (whom by the way hates shopping too), my Grandma, who is a massive football fan and consistently gives England and Sheffield United a piece of her mind and my nan who has done The 3 Peaks Challenge.
Then there's my boxing coach - one of the few female boxing coaches in the world - Chrissie Wellington; Dame Kelly Holmes who was a huge inspiration to me as a kid; Jane Couch; the three 17-year-old girls from Brixton who I'm training and mentoring as part of a new project I've started called Running for a Life; Paula Radcliffe, Maggie Alphonsi, Jeanette Kwakye, Fran Halsall, Katie Taylor. I could go on and on and on.
The question we have to ask ourselves, though, is why is female sports participation in the UK the worst in Europe apart from Turkey?
Let's keep changing the attitudes to women and sport and give girls a sporting chance to shape their own future, discrimination free.
Find out why Charlie is preparing to make her debut as a stand-up comic to raise funds for Women's Aid - a charity working to end domestic vicolence against women and children.
To find out more about Charlie's challenge just click here .
Charlie is also taking part in a live web-chat right here on skysports.com, together with fellow Sky Sports News presenter Alex Hammond, to promote International Women's Day. To find out how to submit a question click here.