Last month, on a grey and drizzly November evening, Ellen and Megan Bond put on their boxing gloves as part of an eight-week fundraising programme. Working with White Collar Fighter in Stockport to support a small local charity called Dementia Warriors, Northern Soul’s Megan tells the sisters’ story. 


2021 was a heartbreaking year for my family. While we were trying to claw back a bit of normality following a global pandemic, all that became a secondary thought when my grandparents on my mother’s side received twin diagnoses of dementia and Alzheimer’s. My mum left her teaching position and became a full-time caregiver.   

Fast forward to 2023 and the support from Dementia Warriors in Dukinfield has become pivotal to my mum’s care for my grandparents. The Tameside charity provides support to family carers looking after those with dementia, alongside hosting activities which are engaging, stimulating and physically active.   

Tracey Bond (my mum) says: “Every Monday they open their doors, providing entertainment and support. Honestly, it’s one of the best days of the week for me and for many other families caring for loved ones with dementia. Hopefully you will never need to rely on dementia groups in the community, but it would be great to know they are there if you need them.”  

As it’s so small, the charity relies members’ donations to keep running. And so my sister and I knew it was time to step in and help the people who had helped us, as well as generate funds for the organisation’s amazing work. Together, we set a goal to raise £500 for Dementia Warriors. 

What better way to raise money than by challenging ourselves? My sister Ellen came across White Collar Fighter, a boxing training programme for beginners, and somehow convinced me to come along too: eight weeks of training in exchange for one fight in the ring for our chosen charity.   

We went in blind. Although both of us have a background in martial arts, we’d never experienced the intensity of boxing nor its fierce conditioning. Week one of training didn’t get its nickname ‘Hell Week’ for being easy. Each session (every Monday and Wednesday) began with military-style warm-ups. Despite the stern teaching methods, the atmosphere was friendly and electric. Everyone seemed eager to help, even though many of us would be one-on-one in the ring before too long, while the mentors, each with their own unique talents in fighting, inspired, disciplined and motivated our Stockport team. Without their drive, we would have struggled to push through the physical and mental barriers. We can’t thank them enough.

Although it was challenging, training with my sister was a complete laugh. We’d jokingly punch each other a little harder than advised and step on each other’s toes. One week, Ellen poked me in the eye. Yikes! Moments like that reminded me of the importance of having fun when you push yourself beyond your own expectations. I could never have fought in the ring without my sister’s support.  

It was only in the last week of training – ‘Face Off Week’ – when we found out who we’d be fighting. Our Stockport team was divided into two: the Red Team with Coach Steve and the Black Team with Coach Monkie. I was selected for the Black Team, facing off my training partner Liberty (on the opposing team). Ellen was in the Red team, although I knew they’d never pair up family. 

Fight night

And then it was Saturday. Arriving at Manchester’s Bowlers Exhibition Centre and seeing the ring before the fight was overwhelming for a variety of reasons. It all came down this moment. More than 2,000 people would witness us get absolutely battered for charity. As my sister said, “it was the first time I felt my heart in my mouth”.   

I’ll never forget those three minutes in the ring. Fighting against a friend was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The first punch is the hardest one to throw because you know what’s coming next. I can’t remember how many hits to the face I took but it was a lot, to the point that my headpiece kept coming loose.   

In the ring, you tire very quickly and it’s difficult to hold your guard up with the weight of the gloves. I am way too short to throw head shots back so I needed to use my lack of height to my advantage, dipping my punches to the stomach and the ribs of my opponent. In order to win, I needed enough clean shots.   

Stepping into round two of the fight, I looked at Liberty. For a split second we smiled at each other, despite all the pain and the sweat. I was reminded of why I was doing this, for the small local charity which has been so important to my family. With this thought, I was compelled to give it my all for the last round.  

The final bell rang and I sprung forward, throwing body shots, stepping back to avoid the facial jabs coming in my direction. With 30 seconds to go…10 seconds…I had no idea who’d won the fight until my Coach took off my headpiece and I discovered I was the winner. I whimpered in disbelief, then twisted to look at my family and friends in the crowd cheering.

Each contender sets out to push themselves to their limit for a good cause and, no matter how the fight ends, we are all winners. 

Images and words by Megan Bond  


Megan and Ellen raised £570 for Dementia Warriors