X-Factor star who wants to be the first Indigenous women’s world champ got into boxing as a way of dealing with her domestic violence hell
- Shanell Dargan first shot to fame as a contestant on The X-Factor in 2014
- She has since swapped the mic for boxing gloves and has made her pro debut
- It was a debut labelled one of the best ever and comes after a troubled past
- Now Dargan wants to bury that past and become the first Australian Indigenous female world champion boxer – and be a role model for women everywhere
Before Shanell Dargan stepped into the ring for her first professional bout in April this year, she was considered a novelty. Now, she wants to be Australia’s first Indigenous female world champion.
Women’s boxing is still trying to find its place on the world stage and Dargan was viewed differently because she came to the ring after singing in front of John Legend in New York as part of reality TV show X-Factor Australia.
But she proved she has what it takes and then some when she and Ashleigh Sims – the wife of NRL player Tariq Sims – fought an all-out war on the undercard of the Harry Garside v Manuer Matet fight night in Sydney on April 6.
Dargan (left) and Sims during the undercard bouts ahead of the Australian Lightweight Title boxing match between Harry Garside and Manuer Matet at Hordern Pavilion in Sydney
The duo stood toe-to-toe over four, intense two-minute rounds in a bout that ended as a draw – and drew praise as one of the best women’s boxing matches to date.
They were both issued $5000 bonuses on the spot and a rematch is assured.
But anyone who viewed Dargan as a novelty has now had their eyes opened wide. She is a genuine fighter, one that is coming for the best in the world.
‘I’ve literally been fighting my whole life,’ she admits.
Dargan has endured the pain of having a grandmother who was part of the Stolen Generation, drug-addicted parents who were in and out of prison, and the horrors of domestic violence.
Dargan shared her journey on reality television show The X-Factor with her grandmother
However, now she has the focus and discipline to dictate her own terms and create a better life for her and her son Oryn Davis.
‘The goal is that I want to be the first Indigenous female world champion,’ Dargan told the Daily Telegraph.
‘There’s been males, and it’s a male-dominated sport, but I think that with my drive and my work ethic and where I grew up to where I want to go now, I’ve literally been fighting my whole life. It’s one of those things that’s been embedded in me.
‘I feel like Indigenous women as a whole, we have gone through so much, the intergenerational trauma. But if we have that push, that drive, I know we have so much talent that we can do anything we want to really. We’ve just got to put our minds to it.’
Dargan’s new discipline has brought her focus and direction after a troubled past that brought X-Factor judge Danni Minogue to tears.
She always knew she could throw a punch, she just needed to channel her energy the right way.
One unfortunate queue-jumper at Star Casino in Sydney found out the hard way how damaging Dargan’s fists could be in 2016.
She admitted to punching him twice in the head, but she was allowed to walk free by a magistrate who considered her troubled past and mental illness.
Now that Dargan has found that focus, she wants other women battling current domestic violence issues or past demons to know they can do the same thing.
‘There’s so many women that are going through these similar circumstances and you believe that you’re alone,’ Dargan said.
‘You get so lost in what’s happening to you that you don’t understand that there’s other women going through similar circumstances. And honestly, I would tell every single woman that is going through it or has survived domestic violence to come in and do a combat sports, come in and learn some self-defence.
‘Boxing is a sport that people think is violent, but it’s not. It’s really, really technical and it’s a really beautiful sport. The more you get to know it, the more you fall in love with it.
‘And even if the girls just want to do it for fun, fitness, to lose weight or for their mental health or to learn self-defence, I would honestly recommend to do it because you will not regret it, and you never know, you might have a hidden talent that you didn’t know of and you could be a professional boxer.