Shropshire Star

Roha Hudson on becoming a champion after winning the biggest fight of her life

Just four months after being told she might spend the next year in a wheelchair, Roha Hudson won a national boxing title.


So when she outlines, with some confidence, her ambition to become a world champion, you have no option but to take her seriously.

Hudson’s first professional bout, scheduled for March 9 in Coventry, will simply be another step on a journey which has already seen the Telford fighter defy the odds.

Hit so hard by Covid-19 complications it left her unable to walk, overcoming adversity is nothing new. Preparations for her professional bow have been hampered by flooding at her Wellington Boxing Academy training base.

“I feel like I am the unluckiest fighter who ever lived!” laughs Hudson.

Unlucky would be one way to describe it. Unbreakable might be more appropriate.

Even now, Hudson admits she can’t quite find appropriate words to describe the events of late summer 2021 which left her seriously ill in hospital.

She remembers laughing after testing positive for Covid. She remembers several days spent on the sofa in her flat, struggling to move. Still, there are gaps.

“Much of it is just a massive blur,” Hudson explains.

“I couldn’t get up. I couldn’t move. It was like having vertigo. I could not stand up or move because my head would spin and I would throw up. I was stuck on the sofa, drifting in and out of sleep.

“There was a bottle of Lucozade on the kitchen side and I knew I needed to get to it. I closed my eyes and thought: ‘Well, I am either going to die and won’t remember it, or I am going to wake up and feel amazing’.

“The next thing I know, there are paramedics coming through the door. I could hear voices saying: ‘Her lips are blue’.”

Hudson knows she may well owe her life to her friend and neighbour Vicky, who alerted the emergency services after being unable to reach her by phone. Only when she was admitted to hospital did the severity of the situation become clear.

“They put me on a drip and straight away I started feeling better. I was all ready to go home,” she says.

“The doctor then said: ‘You aren’t going anywhere soon. You’ve got pneumonia and your lungs are flooded with water’.

“They ended up showing me a scan of it because I refused to believe it.”

From there, it was only the start of Hudson’s ordeal.

“I just wanted to slowly get better. Then everything else started happening,” she explains.

“I started to get tremors, my hands were shaking really bad, all my hair was coming out. I kept telling the doctors I couldn’t feel my legs and they told me it was muscle wastage.

“But I had only been in there 10 days, so I didn’t believe that. I couldn’t stand up. It was horrible.”

Hudson was eventually diagnosed with a functional neurological disorder and left hospital in a wheelchair.

“I was told it would take between nine and 12 months before I was walking again,” she continues. “In the end, with the physio, I was back on my feet in four weeks.”

Just a few weeks after that, she was back in the gym and remarkably, in December 2021, became Wellington ABC’s first senior female boxing champion when she beat fellow Shropshire fighter Kat Stanworth to win the national development title at 81kgs.

“I remember how bad my lungs felt after that fight,” she says. “At that point it felt like Covid had wrecked my body.”

More than two years on, now aged 26, Hudson still lives with its impact. She knows her voice will forever be a couple of octaves lower than before due to the damage coughing did to her vocal chords. The medication she took to deal with tremors is a substance banned by British Boxing’s Board of Control, something else she has needed to work around.

What certainly has not been dented, is her confidence.

“I know I will do it. I simply won’t allow myself to fail,” says Hudson, who was born in Coventry and learned to adapt to change during a childhood in which she had lived in 29 different houses by the age of 16.

Sport has always been a big part of her life. A keen footballer, she was a talented runner at school.

“I was the fastest girl in Wolverhampton at 14,” says Hudson, who now works as a personal trainer and events co-ordinator.

Boxing, which she initially took up as a means to build fitness following the birth of her son, became a more serious pursuit when she began to compete. Her record as an amateur reads boxed eight, won eight, all by unanimous.

The decision to turn professional was motivated in part by the difficulty in finding opponents but also the increased opportunities for female boxers in a rapidly growing sport. Hudson is aiming squarely for the top.

“Every sport I have ever competed in, I have always wanted to be No.1” she says.

“Boxing is a one-to-one game. I always look at myself more than my opponent. I don’t care who they are. I don’t do any research on them. I don’t care about the record.

“It is a mental game and I love that so much. I say to my coach all the time when I get in the ring I won’t lose because I won’t allow myself to.

“That isn’t arrogance. When I am in the ring it is like a dance. It is me against me.

“I am so confident in myself. It is the buzz I get. It is showing off. I love the talking, I love the papers, I love the interviews. I love all of it.

“People won’t admit they like the attention. A lot of boxers won’t admit they like the money.

“But I tell you, one of the things I want most is the money and the fame. I love all of the stuff which comes with it.”

Whether stardom awaits or not, Hudson already has an incredible story to tell.