THE path from elite skier to aspiring boxer is not a well trodden one. But Anna Vincenti has never been one to be deterred just because the odds are against her.

The Edinburgh woman made her name as a freestyle skier, competing at the highest level for almost a decade, but following her retirement two years ago after a string of devastating injuries, including a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the 26-year-old is now doing the sport she believes she was born to do – boxing.

Swapping the slopes for a boxing ring may seem quite a leap, especially as she came via football, having represented Scotland as a junior and then last year, made her international debut for Malta  qualifying to play for them  through her grandfather.

But it is as a boxer Vincenti feels most comfortable.

Having spent much of her childhood wanting to get into the ring but being forbidden by her mum, Vincenti decided that retirement from skiing presented the perfect opportunity to try boxing for the first time.

She took the plunge at the end of last year and under the guidance of former world champion Alex Arthur, Vincenti believes she has what it takes to surpass her achievements as a skier.

“The aim is the Olympics, for sure,” she said. “When I began boxing, I really felt like I wished I’d done it when I was younger because I feel so comfortable and that I’ve got everything you need to be a good boxer.

“I know I’m behind in terms of boxing years compared to the other girls but athletically, I probably have more experience than a lot of them.

“Obviously I still have lots to learn but that’s exciting because I know I’ve got so much scope for improvement. I train so hard too and I truly believe the saying that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

Despite being a novice, Vincenti had squeezed in two competitive fights before lockdown in March. Two victories showed her confidence was not unfounded and while for some, being punched in the face for the first time would put them off for life, it only served to heighten Vincenti’s conviction that she is made for this sport.

“I know this sounds so weird but I actually like the feeling of being hit,” she said. “When I get hit, I don’t feel like I want to shy away, I just think okay, come on then.

“I’m just not scared of getting hit. That’s sometimes part of my problem – I’ll put myself in positions I shouldn’t because I’m not worried about getting punched. If you are scared of being hit, you’ll never make it as a boxer so I guess it’s a good thing I’ve got it. And I love to see how far I can push myself, physically and mentally.”

Just as the pandemic hit the UK, Vincenti was preparing to fight in her first Scottish Championships. Their cancellation was a huge disappointment but on reflection, the postponement until the beginning of next year has given her some valuable time to hone her craft.

The enforced break sucked the motivation out of many athletes, but it only served to convince Vincenti she has found her calling. She may have spent many of her days during lockdown doing her job as a postie, but she also devoted a lot of time thinking about how to improve as a boxer.

“This break has made me realise how much I love boxing. When I’m working, doing my rounds, I’ll be walking around the streets and I’ll imagine there’s punches coming at me or if there’s a branch in front of me, I’ll dodge it like I’m in a fight,” she said.

“Motivation is never a problem for me and that was the same during lockdown. I had a lot of time out the boxing gym but I did a lot of cardio and used the time to just work hard."

There are few better mentors and coaches if you want to make it to the top of the boxing world than someone who has been there themselves, which is why Vincenti is so glad she has Arthur, who was also British, Commonwealth and European champion, overseeing her transition into the sport. She knows he would not be wasting his time on her if he did not believe she has what it takes to excel.

“It’s great having Alex behind me. Knowing he’s in my corner gives me so much confidence and knowing he believes in me gives me that extra little boost,” she said.

“He really knows what he’s talking about and so there isn’t a better person I could be working with. He’s done it all in boxing so I know I can learn so much from working with him.”