Bournemouth EchoMonday interview: Hubby happy to take it on the chin as Denise seeks world title (From Bournemouth Echo)

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Monday interview: Hubby happy to take it on the chin as Denise seeks world title

Bournemouth Echo: PACKING A PUNCH: World title hopeful Denise Castle PACKING A PUNCH: World title hopeful Denise Castle

UNLOADING punches in her husband's direction is just a normal part of training for Denise Castle.

A former muaythai world champion, the 42-year-old is putting in the hours ahead of her first world title bout in boxing.

With hubby Lorne as her sparring partner, Castle has no problem letting rip on the pads, and nor should she as the mum-of-two prepares for what she admits is the biggest fight of her life.

Given that the 5ft 3in puncher has taken the quickest-ever route to a shot at a global crown, it's easy to see why she is taking it seriously.

Off the back of a muaythai career that was successful in a sporting sense if not a financial one, Castle took up boxing professionally this year.

Having won the World Boxing Council's most inspirational athlete of the year award in November 2013, the East Cliff atomweight was fast-tracked up the ladder as she swiftly saw off Thai opponents Dogmaifai Keatpompetch and Dorkmaipah Kiatpompetch in April.

Next on the menu, in Tokyo on August 2, will be Japan's Momo Koseki, who has defended the WBC world title 13 times since she first won it in 2008.

And Castle is relishing the prospect of going toe-to-toe with the Far East legend.

“I've always been strong with my hands and boxing has been something I wanted to do for the past few years,” said Castle.

“I got to where I wanted to in muaythai and couldn't go any higher, so I thought I would see how I got on in boxing.

“I had always done well with my hands and after I had a couple of fights in Thailand it just went from there.

“The fight in August is a big deal and is probably the biggest fight I'll ever do, but until I get there and I suddenly realise, 'this is it', I will just do what I do.

“It could be any fight and I will take the same approach.”

The lack of British women competing at world level in muaythai and boxing means Castle is well-used to training with her husband at Fit Body Boot Camp in Charminster.

But sparring is an awkward word in this professional relationship, for when Castle spars, she goes all-out.

“We're used to it now, we've been doing it for years and years,” she said.

“Sometimes Lorne will rile me by giving me a body shot and smiling at me, but as a combination we do work well. It's just a training session at the end of the day.

"Training at full throttle gains me the fitness I need, because if I'm sparring at 100 per cent, I know how it's going to feel in the ring.

“You can look crisp and sharp on pads, but you need to be able to put that into practice when someone is attacking you.”

A mother to Antonia, 16, and Leah, seven, Castle has spent plenty of time analysing Koseki's style, strengths and weaknesses.

Despite being a left-hander, Castle fights orthodox and will come up against her mirror image in Koseki, a southpaw with 18 wins and two defeats in her 20 career fights.

“I've seen Momo's style and she looks a little bit awkward,” said Castle.

“She's in the opposite stance and is quite aggressive, but I've been under pressure before. I'll give it my best shot and that's all I can do.”

Looking beyond Castle's first pro outing in boxing, what does Lorne think about his partner's prospects in the sport?

“Win, lose or draw I think Denise has got a very good future over the next couple of years,” he said.

“There are still other associations and other belts, so it's exciting looking ahead over the next two years.

“Women's boxing took off on the amateur side at the London Olympics with Nicola Adams but the professional side hasn't yet.

“Since Jane Couch back in the late-90s, there has been no British female at world level who has been exciting and a role model.

“But now is the time for female professional boxing.”

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