Meet the teacher putting a punch into maths
Ebanie Bridges is a high school maths teacher aiming for a gold star on her report card when she fights on the Anthony Mundine-John Wayne Parr undercard in Brisbane on Saturday night.
The busy bantamweight known as The Blonde Bomber teaches maths at Airds High School, southwest of Sydney and is proving a real knockout in the fight game after years of international success as a bodybuilder.
Her boxing coach, Arnel Barotillo, was one of Australia's leading fighters in the 1990s, tackling the world's best including Manny Pacquiao, and at 33 Ebanie says it's still not too late for her to hit the heights of international women's boxing.
``I've loved combat sports since I was a kid and I have a black belt in karate,'' she said ahead of her fight with late substitute Kanittha Ninthim of Thailand on Saturday night at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.
``Women's boxing was banned in New South Wales for many years so I took up bodybuilding and competed internationally.
``But I really love punching people and when I finally got the chance to box I dedicated myself to going as far as I can. I probably only have a couple of years to really make it big in the sport so I'm not letting any opponent get in my way.''
Ebanie made her amateur boxing debut in 2016 and won two NSW titles, showing that while she has a head for figures her fists set the toughest tests.
She turned professional in February on the same night that Tim Tszyu beat Englishman Denton Vassell and rugby league great Justin Hodges pounded furniture removalist Rob Baron.
Ebanie says she hopes her sporting success inspires her students to pursue their studies as ferociously as she pursues her goals.
``I know it's very unusual to have a female maths teacher who is also a boxing champion,'' she said.
``But I like smashing the stereotypes.
``The kids at school follow my boxing career and always want to see footage of me fighting and they're always asking me about my next bout.''
Ebanie will leave for New York immediately after Saturday's fight to support Brisbane's Dennis Hogan in his quest to take the WBC world middleweight title from Jermall Charlo on Sunday week.