The canvas? That wasn’t where Dee Allen (1-0, 1KO) expected to find herself a mere 20 seconds into her professional debut. Years of questioning her own dedication to a craft that rarely offered reward, and it took just seconds to realise that anything worth having doesn’t come easy – especially as a pro.
Allen, from Leytonstone, East London, rose to her feet though, determined to continue, desperate for vindication. After eating another clean shot from the fighter drafted in to make her look good, something switched. She hadn’t come this far and spent this long building a reputation in London’s gyms and at amateur competitions just to wave the white flag. And although it was just her professional debut, held in a modest hotel, Allen fired back with venom.
“I was embarrassed, of course I was,” she opened, perched on the edge of a ragged sofa, speaking to Boxing Social during a break between bouts on another small hall show – this time in Glasgow, Scotland. “When I stepped in the ring, I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll throw a jab, she’ll throw a jab,’ we’ll figure each other out. But she didn’t come with that; she didn’t come to play, and she put me down in the first round with two punches that caught me on the chin. Flash knockdown, kind of [rolled] my eyes a little bit, and all I could remember thinking when I was going down was: ‘You have worked too hard for this; there’s no way it can be over after 20 seconds.’ I knew I needed to get back up.”
“I was a little bit pissed off. I was working away, I was throwing the jab and that shot [that ended the fight] was one that I was surprised with. If you watch, when I throw it, I’m actually shocked, and I stopped myself. It was one minute and 20 secs – a lot happened in that time,” concluded Allen, under the proud management of Irishman, Robbie Flynn.
Women’s boxing – while boasting an exquisite incline – isn’t known for its heavy knockdowns and blistering punching power. Allen, aged 30, was taken aback herself. But when asked if fans could expect excitement in forthcoming contests, she nodded with a secretive, knowing grin. Flynn has been singing the Londoner’s praises, sharing clips of the firefight via their social media accounts, but Allen isn’t a brash, angry fighter. She isn’t the loud mouth from “the ends” despite proudly telling Boxing Social that’s who she hopes to inspire. She’s calm, content, and measured.
“I was an amateur for 14 years, and I didn’t really know how to go pro. I followed other girls, girls that I knew, it was a real struggle and they started payingmoney, losing money in their first two, three fights. That wasn’t really appetising for me. I may as well box for free instead of boxing and paying my own money, right? I had dreams of boxing in the Olympics, and I had the opportunity to compete in the trials, but I got injured – a really bad injury. It became apparent that it just wasn’t gonna happen for me. Since then, it got a bit boring doing the same competitions, going round and round, and I was thinking about stepping away from it. Just getting on with normal life. Then, there was a coach who asked me to try the pro game, why not turn over? It all kind of started from there…”
And it is just the start – despite spending half of her life gloved up, plying her trade. Allen is set to fight for the second time on April 30th, building, learning, and winning, all being well. BoxRec’s rankings already have her rated first in the United Kingdom’s welterweight division, but it’s worth noting their reliance on a mathematical algorithm, over fight records or longevity. Still, the future is bright.
A woman Allen has been training and sparring in the same gym with – Scotland’s world champion Hannah Rankin – proved that humble beginnings don’t necessarily dictate a fighter’s ceiling, and with Allen’s superior amateur experience, she’s hoping to one day walk in Rankin’s shoes: “She [Rankin] came from a white collar background and from where she was, to where she is now, a world title holder, I know that I can get there. I know if I get a few fights between now and the end of the year, I can start to challenge for titles, a British title, something like that, then move onto challenge for world titles.”
“I wanna clean up the welterweight division and then the super-welterweight division – that’s my aim. The beginning part of your career as a professional [is the hardest part]. You’re just starting out, you’re working and training, you obviously have to dedicate more time to boxing. And it’s really hard trying to make everything work. But I want to be remembered as one of the greatest female fighters ever. That’s all I wanna be remembered as.”