By Monika Spacilova Perth women are turning to the art of jabs, upper cuts and fancy footwork for fitness and self-defence. A new project designed to entice more women to step into the boxing ring says, that apart from health and fitness, women are learning the fundamentals of self-defence. The Young Boxing Women’s project, which encourages more women to fight in the ring, was founded in January last year by Lisa Longman and Stacey Ward, who operate from two locations and are looking to expand. “So far we have two gyms, in Subiaco and Fremantle, and we are looking to open another gym in Cockburn,” Lisa says. “Our aim is to claim our place in sport, by training women the basics of boxing and self defence.” Murdoch student, Holly Whitehouse, who recently took up the sport, says women are showing they have a natural talent for the sport. “Anyone can box. It’s really not that difficult, and you just work at your own pace and slowly progress,” Holly says. “I don’t think that it’s a dangerous sport at all. It’s not often that I go home with a bruise, so I don’t think women should be afraid of this sport.” Fellow student Claire Birch joined the project a year ago and has boxed her way up to become a coach. “I think that this project has done a good job in fostering a safe and fun environment for young women. Our participants say they are feeling much safer. We also aim to increase self-confidence and leadership skills,” Claire says. The corporate world is taking notice, too. At last week’s biggest event on the corporate boxing calendar, charity gala the Royal Queensberry Championship at Crown Perth, half of the 18 competitors who came out swinging were women.