Corporal Alanna Nihell, the first female team captain of the British Army Boxing Team, does not pull any punches and is leading the way to positive change within the armed forces.
This will be Cpl Nihell’s second season as team captain and has no problems keeping both the women and men in her team in check.
When asked if she can keep all the lads under control, Cpl Nihell jokingly replied: “They know they can’t cross no lines with me, they get put in their place. Yes, men are sometimes physically stronger, but mentally, you know it’s all in here [pointing to head] and in boxing it is mind over matter in the ring.
“The lads and girls respect me, not just because of my boxing, I am a nice, genuine person, but at the same time I take no prisoners.
"Although I would like to think everyone can approach me as well.”
The 33-year-old soldier from 27 Regiment RLC always wanted to join the Army from a young age but put her dream on hold.
Instead, she followed her passion for boxing, telling us: “I was going to join the Army at the age of 19, but then changed my mind last minute due to the upcoming boxing world championship for Ireland in Russia.
“Then after that, I thought it was time to join the Army, it is something that I always wanted to do especially after watching G.I. Jane and films like that as a child.
“When I watched Demi Moore doing the pull ups I was like ‘I could do that,’ apart from the shaved head bit, I was all for it.”
A great deal of Cpl Nihell’s career has been involved around Army boxing, and prior to joining the military she boxed for ten years and had her first international fight for Ireland at the age of 16.
In captaining the team, Cpl Nihell explained that she has taken it all in her stride saying: “I remember coming into the Army boxing team ten years ago and it was full of lads.
“You had a few girls but there were never any female team captains, but I naturally took on the role of looking after the other females because I had the boxing experience from civilian street.
“But to be the first female to captain the whole team was something special and it was something that I always aspired to be, and the fact that I am doing it for the second season, I have now paved the way and I am really proud of that, I will be a part of history."
Talking about her experience with the changing roles for women in the military and in wider society, Cpl Nihell said:
“You can be physically strong, but you have got to be mentally tough too, and that is what I have found within the military.
"Especially in boxing, mentally they [woman] are very strong and that is why today we are doing the same jobs as the men which is brilliant to see, and I am glad to be a part of that change in the history of women, up the women.”
When telling us about her determination and where it comes from, Cpl Nihell said:
“I definitely take after my mum, I have her mentality and her attitude, as well as my little brother and my sister, we are all into combat sport.
“It is all down to my mum, she was the driving force behind us.”
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Talking about her time with 27 Regiment RLC, Cpl Nihell told us:
“I am a driver and section commander, I have been there coming up for three years now and they fully support me with my boxing.
"They’ve backed me to train full time as an athlete within the Army boxing team, which has been really supportive.”