Boxing Mother & Son Dani Hodges & Darcy Freeman
The Birmingham Boxing Column has talked to an inspirational boxing family with a difference. The difference being that it is not a father and son nor a set of brothers but a Mother and son who both compete in the noble art. Single Mom Dani Hodges was a professional boxer who has just retied form competing. The 33 year old known as ‘The Pocket Rocket' has been a professional boxer for the last 3 years and has had a “have gloves will travel” mentality fighting all over the country and also competing in Spain and Poland. Her final record stands at 5 wins in 8 bouts of boxing with her three defeats coming while she was on the road.
Dani original came from a taekwondo background winning numerous area and national tournaments, she then moved to kickboxing training out of Platinum gym Burntwood under the tutelage of Lee Goodwin and Steven Cadman again winning area and national titles. Dani then began to box in the white-collar winning the U.K.B.U English title and then winning again against the Maltese number 1 on her home ground before she applied for her British boxing license. Hodges then signed with BcB promotions under Errol Johnson and Gavin Burrows as pro trainer but still trained out of Platinum gym under Lee Goodwin and Steven Cadman.
Dani lost her first contest in Spain against a fighter who was 9 without defeat, but her first real professional fight as a BBBoC licenced fighter was at the Stadium Suite Walsall against Teodora Hristova. Hodges boxed well and proved why she is called ‘The Pocket Rocket' with her great pressure fighting, winning the 4 round fight 39-37. Dani then went on to win her next 3 fights before taking on Commonwealth gold medallist Lisa Whiteside on the Billy Joe Saunders undercard losing on points. Hodges then got back to winning ways in a six rounder in Dudley beating Emma McCulloch on points. Dani then travelled to Poland for her last fight taking on Wiktoria Sadej losing on points.
My first question to the Pocket Rocket was, who is your favourite boxer and why? She told me “I don't really have just one favourite boxer, it ranges for different things I've always liked the big names such as Manny Pacquiao just obsessed with his speed and heart I also love watching Josh Kelly I just find his style exciting and even new up and coming pro boxers that are looking to make their name such as Luke Jones and Sean Daly whom I've trained with for years I love watching their journeys”.
I then asked Dani, what inspired her to take up the noble art? Dani said “I’ve always been interested in combat sports, It first started about 10 years ago at my old Taekwondo club when they gave away a week's free training for parents where my son trained. From there on in I never looked back and when at Platinum we started focusing on our hands to improve our kickboxing I became obsessed with using my hands and just knew boxing was what I wanted to do".
I then asked Dani, what has been your hardest fight? She told me “All fights are hard if you are giving it your everything but probably my hardest fight was against Lisa Whiteside, it was a massive step up in venue and level of fighter. I lost on points but learnt so much from that fight, I then sparred Lisa a couple months later and her camp even said they could see the improvement in me”.
We then talked about her retirement from the sport she loves, Dani said, “Retiring was an extremely hard decision but at this moment in time I certainly feel its the right one. I'm happy I've been in completive sport for a long time, even before boxing and having the guts to be honest about my feelings and say I need some time to look after myself and my family was harder than any fight”. ‘The Pocket Rocket’ continued “I will still remain in the gym training hard, I will still run everyday, it's just routine to do. I can't imagine life without boxing, Its not the end its just the start of a new chapter.
I then asked Hodges, what is the next chapter for ‘The Pocket Rocket’? Dani replied “I would love to be involved more in coaching the amateurs at Platinum ABC, I feel like because I know what it's like first hand I can offer them good support. We then ended taking about her great relationship with her son Darcy who is an amateur at Platinum gym. The proud mom said “I am excited to enjoy watching Darcy’s career unfold and grow, there's no pressure on the kid from me though I will be tough on him if I see him being lazy but I just want him to enjoy every opportunity and do it for himself. You can't please others all the time in this sport, it can be very lonely and selfish so I’ve installed in him to be humble and grateful but always look after number 1. Of course I will say it because I'm his mom, but he is a real natural talent and a joy to watch, I'm very proud of him. I'm so glad that he trains in a gym that has the likes of Luke Jones, Sean Daly and Troi Coleman, he has grown up watching and studying them and they've been a great support, Platinum is like family”.
Dani’s son is Darcy Freeman he is 15 years old amateur boxer who fights in the 47 kg division. The 5 foot 3 orthodox fighter trains at Platinum ABC Burntwood under the tutelage of Lee Goodwin and Steven Cadman. Known as the ‘Demon’ he has had an impressive start to his amateur career with 5 wins in his first five fights, he has been boxing for 3 year and has already claimed a Midlands County title. My first question to the young fighter was who is his favourite fighter and why? He told me “Luke Jones because I have learnt so much from him over the years while training and watching him fight”. I then asked him what has been the best fight he has seen? Darcy informed me “Luke Jones vs James Beach jr” 2019’s bbcolumn fight of the year. I then ask him what inspired him to take up the noble art? He told me “I was inspired to box by the lads at the gym and my mom. I originally started for fun, but my love for the sport grew immensely and all I wanted to do was box”. My next question was what has been your hardest fight and why? Darcy told me “My hardest fight was my third against Owen Aspell, 7 wins and 2 losses at the time, as it was a tough test of my abilities. I came away with the win and a big gain to my experience”.
I then asked the Burntwood boy, has training with your mom brought you closer together? He said “Yes, definitely, boxing has brought me and my mom so close as we can relate to each other so much and understand what each other are going through so well. Where as most kids talk to there dads about Cars, football and games, I get to talk to my mom about my deep love for boxing and vice versa”. My final question was have you got aspirations of following you mom into professional boxing? Darcy said “yes I'm hoping to go the Olympic route and jump into the pro ranks at the deep end and make myself known”.
Another inspirational story and inspirational family, Dani has fitted a professional boxing career into working and bring up her son Darcy. I have seen Dani fight on a number of occasions and she has never disappointed, she is a great pressure fighter but with a nice tidy technical boxing style. Dani has been in combat sports for many years from Taekwondo to Kickboxing to even having a dabble into the White-collar boxing before turning over to the professional ranks. Dani’s story will definitely inspire a lot more females to take up the sport at all levels, but what is the most inspiring part of the story is her relationship with her son Darcy. While a lot of 15 year old lads sit in there rooms playing Fortnight on there xbox or ps4’s or even worse hanging on street corners or in gangs getting up to no good Dani knows exactly where her son is as he is as dedicated to the noble art as she is. Following them both on social media you can see how great there relationship is and what a respectable young man Dani has brought up. Sharing there love of boxing I’m sure has brought them closer together but you can also see how boxing has moulded Darcy into a respectful young man. So as ‘The Pocket Rocket’ Dani Hodges hangs up her gloves the Birmingham Boxing Column looks forward to following ‘The Demon’ Darcy Freeman’s amateur career unfold and hopefully see him in the Olympics and turn over to the professional ranks.