When Ariane Adlington was about to turn 30 she began questioning what she had achieved in her life.

She weighed 105kg at her heaviest. She was unhappy with the direction her life was taking, suffering minor bouts of depression, and knew she wanted change.

"Before I got into boxing I was quite unhealthy, I was really lazy," Adlington says.

"I had no confidence."


That's a far cry from meeting 35-year-old Ariane, more commonly known as Ari, today.

Generally, she describes herself as quite a shy person who really only comes out of her shell once she's comfortable with people. But when we catch up with her, you'd never know it. She's bubbly, open, talkative and is visibly fit and strong.

Boxing, she says, has helped her through many barriers and has changed her life for the better.

At 29, Adlington started her fitness journey and signed up to Tauranga Boxing Gym because "one of my friends was harassing me to join".

"I was putting it off."

At her heaviest, Ariane Adlington weighed 105kg. Photo / Supplied
At her heaviest, Ariane Adlington weighed 105kg. Photo / Supplied

A few months later - and about 25kg lighter - she was about to enter her 30s. It was at this point she came to the realisation that she wanted to achieve something, so she signed up for a corporate fight.

Preparing for that fight took some getting used to.

"The first time I punched someone it was a weird feeling, I kept on saying 'sorry'.


"It's not a natural thing, you don't think you're going to hurt someone. You hit someone and you're so sorry but after a while you get used to it. You get a punch in the face and you're like 'okay then, punch or be punched'."

She fought in the 75-80kg weight division and although that fight "was the most scariest thing", it was the start of what would become her second job for the fulltime hairdresser.

"I fell in love with it.

"It's become my lifestyle."

Since then she has competed in two Golden Gloves competitions, securing silver and gold, and two nationals as part of the Bay of Plenty team, placing third and second.

She now trains a minimum of five times a week, sometimes twice a day, for a few hours each day.

Boxing has become a way of life for Tauranga's Ariane Adlington. Photo / John Borren
Boxing has become a way of life for Tauranga's Ariane Adlington. Photo / John Borren

Today, Adlington weighs a fit, and extremely toned, 68kg.

Her first Golden Gloves competition was in the senior women's middleweight division (75kg) and left with silver. She fought an Australian boxer and admits it was tough.

While in the ring she remembers thinking "this is the hardest I've ever been hit".

At her first Boxing New Zealand National Championships she came third equal.

"My experience perhaps, was not quite there."

Every year, she becomes hungrier to better her position in the sport.

This year, she fought in her second Golden Gloves competition in the same weight division and determined to win, she defeated King Country's Stephanie Trotter to take gold. She also was named the 2018 Golden Gloves Most Scientific Female Boxer.

"I had it in my mind. I just visualised it."

And at the nationals in Christchurch, she won silver - her biggest sporting achievement to date.

But Adlington hopes this is just the beginning of her sporting career highlights. Despite starting her boxing career a lot later in life than the norm - all of her opponents have been aged between 19 and their mid-20s - she has big goals.

"I really want to represent New Zealand," she said.

She has her sights set on the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and knows she'll have to put everything into it - but she's ready.

Boxing really has changed Adlingtons life and the physical benefits she has gained since starting out is just one part of her transformation.

"It's good for my mental health, it's who I am now really.

"Before I started I was going through a bit of depression ... it was definitely quite a dark place in my life.

"Fitness is so good for your mind and for your soul. It's my happy place when I need to re-group."

Tauranga's Ariane Adlington says boxing has changed her life for the better. Photo / John Borren
Tauranga's Ariane Adlington says boxing has changed her life for the better. Photo / John Borren

One of those times she needed to regroup was when her sister Charlie Nicholson died from melanoma three years ago at the age of 37.

"She was really young, it was really sudden.

"She was pregnant with her first child and through the hormones of being pregnant made it progress extremely quickly. They had to decide if they keep the baby in there longer or start the treatment.

"They chose to let the baby grow and they birthed a beautiful baby boy. But two months after, it ended up taking her life.

Being able to take her feelings out through boxing and being surrounded by supportive gym members helped her through her sadness.

"There would be times I would be down at the gym sobbing my eyes out, like just hysterically crying and I would be punching on that bag and everyone around me were like, 'you're doing really well, keep at it'.

"Being able to go and box and punch that bag and take all of my sadness and anger out on that bag, I would own that bag. It really got me through that hard time, that's for sure."

Although Adlington's sister is no longer around physically, she is happy to have her "beautiful baby boy" Ryder, who will be turning three next month, in her life.

Boxing was something Adlington accidentally found a love for and she never knew how much she would need it until she did.

She says that's kind of been a theme in her life through where she has based herself and her career.

Hairdressing wasn't a career path she had always wanted to follow. She said she had to find something to do and because she had done some hair modelling as a teenager, hairdressing sounded fun.

She fell in love with that too and has worked in the industry ever since, now based at the Directors Chair in Devonport Rd in Tauranga.

Her work will be what Adlington focuses on for the rest of this year. It's the off-season at the moment, with her next boxing fight not expected until February or March.

But there is no doubt she'll be working just as hard at the gym because she'll have to keep working on her "strength, conditioning and fitness".

"There's not enough time in the day."

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