Dagenham Boxing Club's Stratton wants to inspire more women into sport

Dagenham Boxing Club's Kara Stratton with Billy Joe Saunders

Dagenham Boxing Club's Kara Stratton with Billy Joe Saunders - Credit: Kara Stratton

Dagenham Boxing Club's Kara Stratton is hoping to attract more women into boxing after recently becoming a Grade A judge.

The former Robert Clack pupil, a district champion and county silver medalist at high jump, has been interested in boxing since her elder brother went to the club gym as a 10-year-old.

And after plans to become a referee had to be shelved, Stratton decided to focus on a role outside of the ring.

"I did plan on becoming a referee when I first started but unfortunately I have osteoarthritis and degenerative spine disease, which made this unattainable, so I went with judging," she said.

"I was a little dubious at first but soon felt at ease when I'd judged a few shows. I joined Dagenham as a Grade C official after passing the exam in 2016, when London Boxing was formed.

"I judged at club show level for around a year, most weekends, as a volunteer. Then in December 2017 I was offered the chance to take my Grade B exam, which I did, and passed."

Dagenham Boxing Club's Kara Stratton (right) is a Grade A boxing judge

Dagenham Boxing Club's Kara Stratton (right) is a Grade A boxing judge - Credit: Reggie Hagland

That meant Stratton could judge championships at a regional level and, many club shows and championships later, she was nominated to officiate at the National Youth Championships in Birtley, Newcastle in February 2021.

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Having impressed at that event, she was told later that year she had been nominated to take the A Grade exam and assessment, as soon as the course was delivered.

"On Mother's Day weekend this year I attended the National Junior Championships in Guildford to take the exam and my judging performance was assessed over the weekend of boxing," she added.

"It was then a week of waiting on tenterhooks to hear the great news that I'd passed. And the fact I'd taken my exam on Mother's Day made it poignant for me as my late mother and grandmother would have been so proud of me."

Kara Stratton's late mum, Lynn Dunn (nee Harris) on her wedding day

Kara Stratton's late mum, Lynn Dunn (nee Harris) on her wedding day - Credit: c/o Kara Stratton

Since the formation of London Boxing in 2016, it is believed only a few people have achieved their Grade A, with Stratton understood to be the only person in the borough to do so.

"I couldn't have done it without the constant support and help from Dan O'Sullivan and the rest of the club," said Stratton.

"We really would love to get more women into boxing in general and think this could inspire women into getting involved. It doesn't necessarily mean they have to put gloves on!"

Boxing has already given Stratton so many great memories and she says the hard work makes it all worthwhile.

"I've judged at the Met Police Box Cup at the Indigo O2 twice, also York Hall which was amazing, and I always enjoy the Haringey Box Cup at Alexandra Palace," she said.

"But top of this list was the National Championships at Guildford Spectrum where I achieved my A grade. It was a challenging and hectic weekend but worth it.

"As volunteer officials we do give our all to the sport, which means sacrificing weekends and evenings and lots of travel. But it's worth it to see these kids achieve their dreams.

"There's nothing better than coming from a club who have just got their first Senior Elite champion [Darren Bailey] in decades.

"I'm very proud of where I come from and my late nan and mother, both Dagenham women until the end, would have been so very pleased to see my achievements in what is still a very male-dominated sport."

Kara Stratton's grandmother, Charlotte Harris, in her Army kit. She was stationed at Aldershot during the Second World War

Kara Stratton's grandmother, Charlotte Harris, in her Army kit. She was stationed at Aldershot during the Second World War - Credit: Kara Stratton