A learning support assistant at a Manchester school has punched her way to a silver medal at the Women’s European Boxing Championship in Bucharest.
Stacey Copeland, who works at Parrs Wood High School in Didsbury, played football for England’s under-18s before injury forced her to quit.
But instead of giving up sport she decided to follow in her father and grandfather’s footsteps and try her hand at boxing.
This year’s Women’s European Boxing Championship was her first major international tournament and she battled her way to the welterweight final against the odds, eventually losing to the more experienced Elena Vystropova of Azerbaijan.
As well as working as a learning support assistant, Ms Copeland also runs a boxing club for Parrs Wood pupils, aiming to boost their fitness and self-esteem.
“Stacey joined Parrs Wood two year ago and her passion, energy and commitment to improve life chances for all students is unquestionable,” said headteacher Andrew Shakos.
“She has a special talent of being able to energise and galvanise staff and students to work together to make a positive difference to those in our community who need it most.
“Her success in the European Championships doesn’t surprise us, despite her perceived lack of experience in competitive bouts. Anyone who knows Stacey knows only too well that she immerses herself in everything she does in life and always strives to be the best she can be.”
As Ms Copeland showed her medal to students she admitted she couldn’t quite believe what she had achieved.
“I was just looking forward to the experience of going to my first major tournament with England, so to make it to the final and come away with a silver medal is incredible,” she said.
“Some will say that boxing is in my blood, but I think it’s about more than that. If I could teach the young people I work with every day one thing it would be to tell them to believe in themselves and their talents. Everyone is good at something – so they should just go for it. If I can do it, so can they.” CAPTION: Boxing clever: Stacey Copeland with Parrs Wood pupils after winning silver at the European Boxing Championships (top)