Even though it was just after the school run when I met Summer Reedy in her cottage in Sherborne, I knew she’d be looking perfect. And sure enough she did, dressed in dark blue jeans, summer sandals and a crisp white shirt, her shiny blonde hair held in a simple pony tail.
As we began talking about cage fighting, one of the first things she mentioned was that she’d recently met Alex Reed (former husband of Katie Price), and that as well as being a great fighter, he is also a cross-dresser. So, although Summer’s involvement in the sport had already altered some of my pre-conceptions, I quickly realised that others might need to go too…
Softly spoken, and laughing frequently, here’s her story of how she became a fight-winning kick boxer.
“We came to England from Phoenix, Arizona four years ago. I’ve loved every second of it and we’ve tried to do everything we could – Ascot, summer balls, all the gardens. The kids are a bit castled-out now, but I’m not. On Saturday my husband Kam and I are doing the Tweed Run in London – cycling in tweed blazer, hat, waistcoat, bow tie, plus fours and tall socks. I’ve just loved everything about the British culture.
The boys have really enjoyed it here too, they’re eight, eleven and fifteen. I love the fact that they’re getting a wider perspective on things over here, plus a more rounded view of world as we’ve travelled so much.
When we first came here I had two semesters left of my psychology degree. After I left school, family events meant that it was easier to go to beauty school than university. Then I started doing hair and worked in a few salons before running my own business from home. I’d already had the kids before I was 30 and Kam was working in aeronautical engineering, which meant he was offered the transfer to work in England for two years.
I thought I’d continue the degree but it just seemed too complicated. But I will finish it when I get home as it’s important to me that I do. After a while of just doing my normal things, cutting hair, joining the school PTA, I had the idea to do a hypnotherapy course. I’d seen a hypnotherapist myself and loved the fact that the treatment is really short, unlike having years of talk therapy. You only go four times and it really works. I used lots of my psychology when doing the year course, so that was good.
The kick boxing didn’t come out of the therapy – although I think some people thought it might have been a promotional ploy! In fact, if it ever comes up at work and I say I use a technique for my boxing, no-one can believe I do it. Really it was just a continuation of the fact that I’ve done sports my entire life and it coincided with me becoming a therapist. I’m 37 now and have done many sports at high level: basketball, swimming, track and field.
All my life I’ve really liked to work towards a goal
In every sport I’ve always hated the practice, the training, but do it as best I can because I really love the competition part; the showing yourself how much you’ve grown as an athlete or whatever it is you’re trying to do. All my life I’ve really liked to work towards a goal. Then once I’ve accomplished it I always want to move on and do something else a little better, different – wanting to grow myself as a person.
The boxing started because Kam said he wanted to learn, so he found a course called ‘Real Street Defence’ – which teaches you to defend yourself from a group attack. After he started he told me I’d probably like it. So I did the women’s course and the trainer said, ‘You’re really good, you should come to the men’s, you’d get more out of it.’ So two of us women switched over.
At the beginning it was a bit scary and you do panic. But that’s what the course is all about – not panicking. After a while it felt more ‘normal’, big, strong guys hitting you (with pads) on every part of your body and you having to defend yourself. Soon I knew what was coming, and that’s the point. If you got attacked you wouldn’t panic, you’d just know what to do. I think everyone should do it, it’s so good.
After six months I felt I’d learnt enough so stopped going. My trainer called and suggested that I should join the kick boxing class instead. Kam and I were in the car when he called. I said I’d like to, but training would be a lot of work without a goal. So he suggested I could do a fight. Kam was like, ‘Really? Do a fight?” So we talked about the fact that I like to train to win. ‘Yeah, I know,’ he said, ‘but cage fighting?’ Over time he had to sort of see how much I liked the sport, but from then on he was totally supportive.
they quickly realised I’d hit them just as hard as they’d hit me
The first day in the class we had to spar and I was the only female in there. I was put with a guy who said, ‘I won’t fight a girl’. Now he’s one of my favourite people, but I was so mad when he said it. I was like, ‘I’m here because I want to be, this is a class to me. And if you’re not gonna fight me, you’ve not giving me the chance to do what I need to do. So, you don’t need to fight me, but defend yourself, coz I’m going to fight you.’ Pretty quickly they were fine with me and soon they’d go on me as hard as they did the other guys. There’s actually a benefit in training with men as they’re much stronger physically so I work that bit harder. And they quickly realised I’d hit them just as hard as they’d hit me.
I have never had any sense of them looking at me as anything but a fighter. I definitely never wanted to use my looks to my advantage and I’d find it annoying if others did to promote the fights. I don’t want anyone to think of me as pretty while I’m fighting. When I turned up for my first public fight the guys did think I was the ring girl. That was not awesome – although they thought it was a compliment.
I don’t think I’m a particularly feminist type of woman. I’m more about people doing what they want to do. I should be allowed to fight other women in a ring. There are other girls who want to fight; but equally there are girls who want to hold the sign up. And those ring girls train really hard as well you know. When the men see how hard you train, any sexism goes out the window, which maybe shows that fighting is a good tool for that. I mean, you’re doing something that’s considered masculine but they actually feel your power. It’s not like a boardroom where, if they sat next to me and said, ‘Oh, it’s a girl,’ it would be harder to quickly show how good I was.
Hitting someone is immediate!
But for me it’s only ever about the sport. The fighting isn’t really the motivation. I do like to keep my body looking a certain way and the kick boxer’s body is one that I really like. I don’t have to worry too much about what I’m eating as I’m training so hard. Your legs get toned from kicking, your abs and arms from all that punching and kicking and all the sit ups, push ups and crunches we do. It’s like a total body physique, a complete work out.
I have used my hypnotherapy a lot. Sometimes I’ll go home and imagine myself doing what I’ve just learnt. If it’s a certain move or something I’ll feel myself doing it when I’m not. When I’m leading up to a match then waiting to go for my turn I’m thinking, going through all the possible moves in my head. And the more you repeat it, the more it sinks into your subconscious and then you can just do it. But I also use it for just staying calm and relaxed. On my first fight show the trainer told me I’d need to be really, really fit because I was gonna use 90% of my energy in my nerves. But I never felt like that. I was so calm, using my hypnotherapy for confidence that ‘I’m gonna win; there’s no chance that she’s gonna beat me.’
My first fight last only 36 seconds,
my second a minute and a half
Something must have worked, because my first fight lasted only 36 seconds, my second a minute and a half. I was so disappointed. With the first I didn’t even get to have the bell ring. I punched her in the stomach, she put her hands down and then I just punched her in the jaw. I thought she’d get back up and fight. I don’t know what I was thinking because there were paramedics on stage. But I still thought, ‘Am I going to have to go more?’ I felt great that I’d won but then saw the medical team working on her and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve actually knocked her unconscious.’
My two older sons were at both fights. I was really hesitant to take them to the first show as I’d watched a couple of shows before mine, so I knew what they were like. I didn’t want the boys to see me get hurt so I went to see my opponent fight and decided I’d probably be ok. So that’s when I let them go. Weirdly in the weeks afterwards I’m watching my son play rugby and, being a mum, am worried that he’s going to get a concussion, you know with all the concussion stuff about rugby. Then I started thinking, I actually gave someone a concussion with my fist. It did freak me out a little bit, because it is a dangerous sport I’m involved with.
I think that every single person has been shocked when I tell them I do it. My Mom just said, ‘I have no words, Summer.’ But she wasn’t surprised, I was definitely a tomboy as a child. Well a bit of both worlds. I did dance lessons and loved the pretty recital costumes, playing dolls and houses. But I had friends that were boys, was the only girl on my basketball team and was always outside catching lizards. Mom was really worried I’d get hurt, and probably slightly embarrassed; my dad was worried too.
I haven’t really considered all the risks. At the level I’m at the referee stops the fight the second he thinks one person is way more advantaged. But training is brutal. I‘ve had to hold the tears a couple of times during sparing as I didn’t want to cry in front of my teammates. I really didn’t want them to have that image of me hurting because I was a girl, then taking it easy on me. But I’ve often driven home in tears, with bruises and bloody noses. I might be limping and my youngest son would be like, ‘What happened? What’s wrong?’ And I’d say, ‘Oh, I got hit in the face today or kicked in the stomach’, or whichever it was. But then I realised, I can’t tell my seven-year-old that I’m getting so hurt because he doesn’t understand that I’m doing it on purpose. I like the training, and even though it hurts I still want to do it. So then I would hide it from him. I’ve had many ice baths in secret.
All my boys know it’s just sport and I’d never hurt anyone on the street
All my boys know it’s just sport and I’d never hurt anyone on the street, I don’t have any worries about them trying to copy me. Occasionally they’ve laughed and made a joke, saying, ‘I’ll get my mom to kick your butt,’ or something like that. They’re proud of me.
The highlight of the experience was winning my first win, and the rush from knowing I’d achieved my goal. And I did like competing in front of a crowd, even in a cage. I didn’t think people would notice me as much as they did. After the first fight, I could tell people in the street were recognising me. A friend was teaching at the local college and some people were discussing that they were going to this cage fighting show. When she said she knew me, they were like, ‘You know Summer!’
I’ve loved doing the sport and the competitions, and would really like to continue with it, probably when we go back home. I think if I’d started at 20 then I’d be really good by now. Maybe even famous. But then I probably wouldn’t have met Kam, and we wouldn’t have our family. So there are benefits in everything.
I’ve enjoyed being part of the boxing scene in Yeovil. It’s really broadened my view of England. I think that everything you do changes you a little bit and it’s definitely changed me. Maybe it’s meant I’ve got to know people more on the inside, getting past someone’s class or cover. Finding a commonality with different people really does make you realise that we’re different, but we can all be friends.
I’m tougher now that I know my toughness and my strength. And it’s not just physically. I know I can get hit and keep going. I never felt particularly vulnerable, but now if we’re say, backpacking I know the kids feel the same about me as Kam. “My mom can protect me as easily as my dad.’ Of course they know he’s a lot stronger than me, but it’s a nice re-evaluation of me as their mum.
Kick boxing has been a really special part of my time in England. I’ve definitely grown, just knowing that I can try something so new. And I also know that just because I’m older, that doesn’t stop me doing it. Now I’ll just see where I can go with the next goal I choose…