When 26-year-old Karriss Artingstall climbs into the ring as Great Britain’s featherweight boxer she does so knowing she’ll be the first female Army boxer to represent her country at an Olympic Games and in her own words, is “there to do a job and there to get myself onto that podium.”
Karriss, a Gunner who serves with 1 Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, grew up in Macclesfield and by her own admission was something of a tomboy. “I was never the best-behaved pupil at school, I was always hanging about with the boys getting into scraps and scrapes. I was never going to be a girly girl, growing up for me was all about football physical sport and mucking about with the lads.”
“I needed to do something active – I couldn’t do a 9 - 5 job, I’d have been bouncing off the walls. The Artillery looked very hands-on and exciting, something to keep me busy, so that’s what I decided to sign up for.” Gunner Karriss Artigstall
After falling out of favour with three secondary schools, Karriss found herself placed in a non-mainstream school and it is here she discovered the ideal means of channelling all that ‘determined’ energy – boxing. It was a sport that would take a disruptive youngster and provide a pathway to an Army career and to ultimately represent her country on the world’s greatest sporting stage.
On leaving education Karriss spent two years as a sports coach apprentice before deciding to join the Army which she describes as, “The best decision I ever made”.
During a recruiting induction weekend spent in Manchester, Karriss said she was by far the fittest of the group because of all the boxing she’d been doing. She had always had the idea of joining the Army, “I needed to do something active – I couldn’t do a 9 - 5 job, I’d have been bouncing off the walls. The Artillery looked very hands-on and exciting, something to keep me busy, so that’s what I decided to sign up for.”
Having gone through her training and come out as a Gunner with 1RHA, Karriss turned her attentions to the Regimental Boxing Team and found herself competing at the Haringey Box Cup, Europe’s largest amateur boxing event. Building on her success, she progressed to the British Army’s Elite Gold Squad, a select group of elite soldier athletes who are marked out for greater things.
At the home of Army Boxing in Aldershot she competed in two Senior Amateur Boxing Association championships where she managed to beat the Team GB’s No.1 seed two years running and that was her ticket into Team GB. Now nicknamed ‘The Bomber’ Karriss went on to box at featherweight in the European Championships in Bulgaria and has moved to the Podium Squad within Team GB boxers.
“A massive thank you to my Regiment and the British Army because without their support I most definitely would not be where I am today or going to the place I have only ever dreamt of.” Gunner Karriss Artigstall
On being selected as Great Britain’s Olympic Female Featherweight contender Karriss said, “You can’t believe how much I’m looking forward to this. To be among world class athletes who are at the pinnacle of their own sports will be brilliant and to soak up the whole atmosphere will be incredible. This opportunity comes around only every four years and I want to enjoy this journey as much as possible.” Karriss went on to say, “I’m going there with the mindset of climbing onto that podium and I know I’m more than capable of beating anyone in my category.”
Come the time of her bouts in Tokyo, Karriss will be roared on by her Regiment, the Royal Artillery and the whole of the British Army, but of course the greatest cheers will come from the proudest of supporters, her Mum, Laurette back home with a 20ft pole flying the Olympic flag and a banner with a picture of Karriss and fellow Olympic boxer Lauren Price draped from her windows.
Speaking of her path to Tokyo, Karriss said, “A massive thank you to my Regiment and the British Army because without their support I most definitely would not be where I am today or going to the place I have only ever dreamt of.”