Skilled bantamweight prospect Carly Skelly (3-0) is also a qualified pediatric nurse at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.
As the country went into lockdown, Skelly went into overdrive, working longer hours and extra days to help cope with the deadly pandemic currently gripping the world.
“I work in children’s wards usually, but right now you just get put wherever you’re needed,” the mum of two and full-time nurse casually explained.
“The ward I’m usually on is closed now and turned into a high dependency ward. We’ve got a clean area where anyone suspected with Covid-19 are taken to in a certain part of the hospital with all the PPE equipment and I’m there quite a lot.
“At the moment, I’m working 12-and-a half-hour sessions, so I start at 7am and finish at 7:30pm.”
The 33-year-old from Litherland is at constant risk herself whenever she performs her crucial duties, which is especially concerning for her and her husband with two children at home.
“Initially, we were just going into work with our normal work uniform on but now we have to go in our own clothes and we’re wearing scrubs all day. Then you have to change back into your own clothes after your shift finishes. When I get home, I get out of the clothes and put them straight in the wash, then get showered.”
The concerns aren’t just restricted to her personal life, as the growing apprehension is also felt in the workplace too.
“It’s quite strange at the minute, because I’m usually on the children’s ward, which is quieter, but it’s like the calm before the storm, because we haven’t had as many cases in the North West, but everyone is a bit uneasy at the moment. All the clinics are closed and everyone is working on the wards, and we’re all getting intensive ward training in preparation for what’s coming, so everyone’s a bit uneasy and a bit scared.
“We’ve only had about three confirmed cases, but I’ve been off work for the last couple of days, I’m back in tomorrow. We are testing everyone with respiratory problems, so treating everyone that comes in like its suspected cases. So far, they’ve all recovered, thankfully.”
Whilst her work goes into overload, her boxing career goes into hibernation. Despite this, the southpaw, like many other pros at the moment, has been doing everything she can to keep ticking over until the gyms reopen again.
“I’m just trying to do my own thing at home, so been doing some strength and conditioning in the garden,” she said.
Fortunately, the family she works 12-hour shifts to support are now coming to her aid in return.
“My eldest son is 13 and taller than me so he manages to spar with me a bit, he’s had a couple of fights, I think it was four skills and maybe three bouts, but he took time out to focus on his footy, but he’s been getting back into his boxing the last couple of months, which has paid off for me!
“My partner is an amateur boxing coach so I’m quite lucky and can do a couple of bits. I’ve been going on runs most nights, got fields behind my house so I do a three-mile route most nights, and on certain days I’m still doing my sprints as well.
Managed by Everton Red Triangle head coach Paul Stevenson, Skelly trains at the North Mersey ABC gym with trainer Sid Sidankey, who has been keeping tabs on his protégé.
“I probably speak to Sid once a week on the phone and few times by text. Luckily, I got a few things from the gym that I can use in the garden to work out with.”
Although both Skelly and Sidankey are keen to get back into the gym to resume work, there’s not much hope that it will be anytime too soon.
“I can see it going on for a little while,” Skelly reluctantly admitted. “I can’t see the kids going back to school until September time. We may be allowed out in a few weeks, but then it could spike again. People just need to take it more seriously, we’re not on complete lockdown, so it seems some people are not taking it serious enough, but if the worse were to happen to a member of their family… but it shouldn’t take something like that to happen. The longer this goes on, the harder it is for everyone to get back to reality.”
After contracting the deadly disease and being nursed back to full health by NHS staff, the country is hopeful that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government might finally appreciate the national health service and give it the financial backing and security it has so desperately needed for decades.
The current PM was one of the many Conservative MPs that voted against a pay rise for nurses in 2017, despite continuing to see politicians’ salaries rise repeatedly every year.
Now that the nation has witnessed the key work and vital importance of our medical professionals, you would expect to see their significance recognised in the immediate aftermath of this pandemic.
However, Carly is not so sure, “I don’t know, that’s something I’ve actually thought myself, that I really hope it makes them realise how important the NHS is and I really hope it changes their views on the NHS. Maybe it might, but politicians aren’t known for being too trustworthy are they?!
“At the moment, we have nowhere near enough PPE or testing equipment, we keep getting it in everyday but it’s still not enough.”
Her lack of hope doesn’t end there unfortunately, as there’s considerable disappointment in this year’s spoiled schedule, with two dates in the boxing calendar (May 2 and July 4) already scratched out.
“I actually had a lot of hope for this year,” the disenchanted pugilist sighed. “There were five shows planned with Black Flash Promotions and I wanted to end this year on 8-0.
“I’m 34 as well this year, so it’s a little bit of a spanner in the works for me, but nothing can be done about it. September and November dates are planned in still, but even they’re doubtful.”
Carly also predicts that the biggest difficulty in the boxing industry will be heightened in the aftermath of the pandemic.
“Selling tickets is going to be hard because who is going to want to go to a big sporting event with all those people together? It will affect everyone slightly in ticket sales and that will affect the shows. It could definitely have a big impact. Or it could be the opposite and everyone is just desperate to get out!”
Clearly, Carly is an incredible role model as a mother, nurse, and professional boxer, but what’s even more remarkable is how she began boxing at the advanced age of 29.
After taking part in a charity boxing event in her late 20’s, Skelly discovered she had a natural talent and developed it further by becoming an amateur boxer and surpassed all expectations to reach the ABA finals and represent England in the GB Championships.
After turning professional, Skelly’s first two opponents in May and September last year had less than 10 fights each, but in her third pro contest in February this year, she stepped up in competition against a centurion and No.1 flyweight in Slovakia, who had 10 KOs from 20 victories. The fledgling pro was confident and capable against the vaster experienced foe to win 40-36 on points, making it her third shutout points win to date.
Still learning the ropes and adapting to the pro style, Carly is fortunate to have a wealth of talent just a couple of miles away from her Litherland home at the thriving Everton Red Triangle gym, where unbeaten stablemates Connor Butler, Bradley Strand and Andrew Cain all hone their trades.
The natural fighter is desperate to be back in the ring to battle her way to title shots, but for now that ambition is postponed while she selflessly engages in a more important fight for the good of her country and its people.
Whilst she dreams of big nights of boxing in Liverpool, those aspirations are regrettably put on ice until this fatal virus is vanquished. So instead of fighting in the ring to make her family proud, she is having to wage war outside of the ropes to keep her family safe.
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