Nicila Costello (3-1, 1 KO) is nothing short of impressive. The Australian Flyweight champion has dived head first into professional boxing, taking on five fights in just ten months, all while running three businesses and being a dedicated partner and mum.
It’s definitely not an easy undertaking, but the drive that Costello has in all aspects of life forms the foundation for her direction as a female athlete trying to forge a path in a male centric sport. It has led to a whirlwind start to her professional career, that sees her sitting at 3 wins and 1 loss so far.
The drive to be successful is certainly nothing unusual for the career personal trainer, who at just 23 years old opened her first gym, swearing off excesses in order to achieve this.
“I didn’t drink at all through uni. I was saving so I could buy a gym.” Costello told The Inner Sanctum.
Although boxing is an individual sport, Costello has surrounded herself with strong support network that is helping her take every step on the journey.
Her coach Todd Commons of Brisbane’s BTB Boxing & Fitness is just one of the key pillars in that network.
“My support network is probably the whole reason why I am here,” she said.
“[Todd] is super busy. He owns his own business and he doesn’t train fighters and he has a family so for how much he puts into me is amazing and he’s got me every opportunity I’ve had.
“I feel like we both help each other grow and I can see his appreciation of female boxing, he’s becoming a super good advocate.”
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Then there is Costello’s partner Carol and their daughter Banksii. In between all the boxing clips and fight promotion on her Instagram, there are also the family photos showing her life outside of the ring.
Although their existence can be chaotic at times, it is one built on support and commitment to shared goals.
“My partner works super hard in her job and then has to balance everything so that I can train and juggle our daughter, but it’s so worth it. We are busy and we definitely get some days where we are tired,” Costello elaborated.
“You can’t think it’s not hard and I wouldn’t sit here and say it’s easy, but it’s worth it.
“I really want my daughter when she starts to get an understanding of this to be like ‘you guys killed it’ and we can say ‘yeah we did that for you.’
“Boxing has built up a lot of resilience and you kind of need that if you want to be the best parent.”
As a result, Costello is conscious of setting an example for others. Sport is just one of the vehicles by which she hopes to do so.
Being a female in a male dominated field is certainly something that is not lost on the ACE Boxing fighter, and she is loud and proud about other females daring to be great in their own unique way.
The confidence that she exudes now and the messages she wants to relay to women about taking chances weren’t always easily relatable to her, though.
Raised in a small town in New Zealand, she didn’t have the easiest time growing up and having a strong role model is something she realises is important.
“If I can have a positive effect on anybody’s life that is what I am looking for,” Costello told.
“I really struggled growing up. I was a gay kid in rural New Zealand that had ADHD and you’re kind of forced to think that you’re wrong and that is a raw way of saying it, but I was really sad.
“There are lots of adults like that too and that’s what I meant about being a role model. For people that are different, don’t think that because you are different you are not going to be something amazing, because you will be.
“To be honest, if you are different you’re probably meant to be something amazing.”
As with most women’s sports, female boxers are also fighting outside of the ring to gain exposure, putting their bodies on the line to help build such momentum.
Although a watershed moment in the form of a historic clash between Katie Taylor (21-0, 6 KOs) and Amanda Serrano (42-2-1, 30 KOs), the first female main event in Madison Square Garden history, just took place, the fight is just a starting point.
Costello is an advocate for change and representation in sport and media, to help not only grow the sport, but change ideas and attitudes.
“You can’t have sports news on TV and play 45 minutes of males and maybe five minutes of females and then expect to have the same viewership, because no one knows who the f**k they are,” she said.
“Boxing is a cool sport to amp females up and young girls.
“But even if they don’t want to do boxing. I don’t care if my daughter doesn’t want to box, but she might find it cool watching boxing to want to go play her own sport.”
The next step in Costello’s professional career is her first televised fight against debutant Hannah Morgan on May 7. It is a big step in the direction of achieveing the level of representation that she wants to be a part of and is a key to her continuing to pave the way for the next generation.
“Female boxing is doing so well in Australia and I am so stoked to be apart of that. My name has been out there, but this is a huge opportunity to get seen by people who haven’t seen me before,” she concluded.
“I really hope that when people look at female boxing, I am a name that they think of or that comes to mind.”
Costello vs Morgan forms part of ACE Boxing Group’s May 7 show, airing live on BeIN Sports at 6pm AEST.
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