RIA RAMNARINE’S “Boxing Beyond The Ring” has surpassed the unlimited expectations of her avid and enthusiastic participants.

At the Fine Line Boxing Gym in Chaguanas yesterday, the former national female boxing standout held her programme’s penultimate session with the group of both young and mature women. Throughout the six week course thus far, Ramnarine and Fine Line coach Bharath Ramoutar has been educating these women on several basic awareness, protective knowledge and techniques which can prove instrumental in dangerous and challenging day-to-day situations.

The mission of this brainchild initiative by Ramnarine is to encourage female participation in boxing through a training programme which enables participants to understand that apart from the sport outcome, the physiological and psychological benefits of boxing lead to an increase in self-efficiency, empowerment and personal safety. At the Gym yesterday, Ramnarine and her assistant male tutor went through several mental and physical routines with her attentive all-female class. Several members of her unit hail from varying “female empowerment” organisations throughout the twin-island republic and were all in high praise of the boxer’s idea, who they claim, has been reaping bountiful benefit.

After a hectic session yesterday morning, Marlene Charles, president of the Young Women Christian Association, expressed her gratitude towards the initiative and chose to highlight some of her knowledge gained from her sessions at “Boxing Beyond The Ring”.

“Boxing was on my list of things to do before I reached 50,” she said. “I like the fact that’s a class for women. As a woman, sometimes you feel self conscious when you go to the gym because of so many skinny people. However, it’s a comfortable environment here.”

“I like the idea that it’s not just about boxing,” Charles added. “In the first week, Ria brought an official to explain the legal aspects of self-defence, and there was a lot of stuff revealed that I did not know. A lot of things that you thought you know, we’re now open to understanding it here.” Two younger members of the class, 16-year-old Kimberly Baptiste and 15-year-old Shenelle Ramsamooj, both of ASJA Girls in Charlieville, also took part in the programme and welcomed the mental and physical benefits of the course.

“The things that we thought we could have done, we can now. The fear factor has been removed from us a bit and we’re a bit more confident in ourselves. We have learnt a lot about observing our surroundings and being preventative before use of physical strengths. This is not a programme to fight, it’s a programme that educates young women like myself, which makes us a lot more aware of our actions,” said Baptiste.

Chatting with the tiny-framed Ramsamooj, she also stated that her mental confidence has been elevated. Bullying in schools is now an unwelcome but present occurrence. While the youngster admitted such violent acts are not prevalent at her school, she was happy to know that programmes such as “Boxing Beyond The Ring” can assist in providing a heightened awareness for females, especially when crime and other discrepancies reign supreme in TT’s now sick society.

“Ria makes it so easy for us to feel at home and we’re comfortable learning more about ourselves. I’m so tiny but the confidence I have built up now, I feel better about myself. Don’t judge the book by the cover,” Ramsamooj joked. All in all, every woman present at Ramnarine’s session yesterday made an open plea to her to continue hosting events such as these. They expressed delight in her initiative and welcomed women from all walks of life to consider getting involved in activities such as this, in an effort to broaden their mental and physical horizons. Saturday is the final class day of “Boxing Beyond The Ring” and participants will graduate and receive certification upon the completion of this course one week prior (March 7) at the Fine Line Gym. The graduation boxes off from 5-7 pm.