‘I am the first travelling girl to kickbox for our country...’

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“I’m the first travelling girl to kick box for England,” said Margarita Doherty - the talented youngster who has twice been crowned English champion.

“I’m the first travelling girl to kick box for England,” said Margarita Doherty - the talented youngster who has twice been crowned English champion.

Margarita, 14, has fought opponents and stigma to succeed in the sport, and will compete in the World Championships in Portugal.

She said: “I represented England this year at the World Championships and I’ve been asked to represent them again in 2016 ”

Irish traveller Margarita has been training at Deborah’s Strike Academy, upstairs at the Kinsley Hotel, since she was seven.

She said: “I love the gym and I really enjoy the atmosphere. They accepted me straight away. It’s like one big family there.”

While Margarita has the support of her family and the club, she said some people thought kickboxing was “just for boys.”

She said: “Some Travellers are pleased and happy for me. Some are upset and say I shouldn’t be doing stuff like this. I just want to make something of myself.

“I love kickboxing but I’m still a girly girl at heart.”

And she wants the same for her younger sisters Precious, One, Angel, four, Shakira, 6, and Nickita, 10.

“Shakira and Nickita have had their first fights for England too. Margarita said. “I’m already encouraging my baby sister Precious to do some of the moves although she can’t walk yet.”

Margarita’s 13-year-old brother Paddy also used to do kickboxing but now he is focused on boxing his way to the top.

Margarita said: “My brother’s really proud of me as kickboxing takes a lot of skill.”

She thanked her trainers Ian Womersley and Paul Butterfield, adding “When you love something so much you can put your heart into it. One day I’d love to be a trainer and I hope to help more traveller girls to get into kickboxing.”

Trainer Ian Womersley teaches from ages five to 50 at Deborah’s Strike Academy.

He said: “Margarita just turned up at my gym, and asked to join six years ago.”

At first she was unsure how she would fit in as somebody from the travelling community. Mr Womersley said: “But her and her family are part of our family, so much so her younger sisters train as well. Margarita’s mother told us she believes her children must do what they feel is right, although it is not accepted that girls should fight, and although she upholds and respects the beliefs and traditions of the travelling community, she wants to support her daughter. When Margarita trains she gives it 100 per cent and I see her winning the World title. She is a credit to us.”