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Medical student Mary MacGillivray wins Scottish National Development title as Calrossie boxer who spent time at Inverness City and Caithness clubs hopes to keep making family proud

By Andrew Henderson

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Mary MacGillivray can call herself National Development Champion after stopping her opponent in the first round.

MacGillivray, who has connections all over the Highlands after growing up in Calrossie in Easter Ross, being registered to Inverness City Boxing Club as well as spending time training at Caithness Boxing Club, was competing in just her second bout but came away with a gold medal.

Being at the Boxing Scotland high performance centre was a different world from training – and inspired her to become a champion.

"It was the biggest boxing venue I've ever seen in my life, and seeing all the rings and the set-up really got the adrenaline going," MacGillivray, who also spent time at St Francis' in Dundee when on placement for her medical degree, explained.

"It was nerve-wracking in the run up to a fight like that. There are tons of really well-run clubs down there – Glasgow is a boxing hot-spot – so you know you're up against good fighters and tough competition.

Inverness City Boxing Club's Mary MacGillivray won the Scottish Elite Development Championship title.
Inverness City Boxing Club's Mary MacGillivray won the Scottish Elite Development Championship title.

"I've been motivated by the other boxers because they are there for the same reason. You're going to have a fight with someone else in the ring, and only one person is going to win, so you just hope that it will be you.

"You can't get in your head too much I find, you just have to cross that bridge when you get there.

"I'm so grateful to the different gyms for having me in and letting me train with them all. They all had something to offer, and I've learned something new at each one.

"St Francis in Dundee is a great gym, they have a phenomenal reputation and they're very well established. Caithness Boxing Club is a lot smaller and operates less frequently, but the coaches are still brilliant and care so much about their boxers.

"I've really enjoyed training at those gyms because of the heart they have at their centre."

MacGillivray is in her fifth and final year of training to become a doctor, which offers an eye-catching dichotomy to her boxing success.

"One of my classmates was joking that I would be treating the people I'm putting in hospital boxing!" she laughed.

"I don't want to hurt anyone, and you can win in boxing without injuring your opponent. At the same time, they are in there to beat you up, so it is a bit of a contradiction that goes through my head.

"I hit someone in the face, they hit me in the face back, but then you have a hug at the end and it becomes normal.

"It's like two sides of the same coin. Boxing does give you a different perspective, and the training itself makes you disciplined.

"It forces you to practice discipline, because there's no way you can box if you don't keep your fitness. Even if you go a couple of weeks without training, you feel the effects, so I try to keep it up because I really like that feeling of training to be ready for a fight, even if you're not fighting.

"I think hospital can be a bit like that as well. I'm in the final year of a five-year course, and you're always preparing for things you haven't seen yet.

Inverness City Boxing Club's Mary MacGillivray won the Scottish Elite Development Championship title.
Inverness City Boxing Club's Mary MacGillivray won the Scottish Elite Development Championship title.

"You appreciate that more each year. At the start it's a lot of reading and studying without the chance to put it into practice to give you that perspective, but now I'm on placements and I know that I need to be putting something to use to get that perspective more.

"Training in preparation for something is one thing that I think both medicine and boxing have in common."

Growing up on a farm in Easter Ross with five siblings, MacGillivray has taken everyone by surprise with her boxing success.

Coming from a dancing background and a family of musicians, she has certainly taken the path less travelled – but she intends to keep making her clan proud by adding to this first success.

"I've got four brothers, so we were pretty active on the farm growing up, helping out with the lambing and the cattle," she added.

"Being outside all the time and running around, playing with my brothers and wee sister who came along eventually as well, kept me pretty active.

"I did Highland dancing growing up, and I enjoy running as well, which I think has helped with the boxing. To do boxing, you've got to run as part of your training, so it helps that I like that.

"I think my brothers and sister were quite surprised. Nobody expected me to go and do this, and definitely nobody expected me to be competing in a national championship.

"They think it's great and I hope I can continue to make them proud."

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