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Autobiography shares story of martial arts champion and BU graduate

A BU graduate who overcame personal difficulties to become a sporting world champion has published a book sharing her life story.

Janine Davis has won world titles in Thai boxing and power lifting and a European title in weightlifting. These achievements have come alongside a career as a personal trainer and eight years of part-time study, during which Janine completed a Foundation Degree, a BSc in Sports Psychology and MRes in Sociology and Anthropology at BU.

Behind the successes, Janine’s book ‘Gribet’ tells the story of her difficult childhood, characterised by physical and mental abuse. Janine said: “My dad was heavily into drugs and left us when I was young. I was brought up by my mum, who struggled with mental illness, and home life was chaotic and abusive. At the age of 17 I took the opportunity to leave home and got caught up in the rave culture that was so prevalent in the 90s. That led me to my own experiences with recreational drugs and it wasn’t until I moved to the States, in my 20s, that I discovered martial arts and something just clicked. For the first time I could channel my anger and frustrations into something constructive and positive and I found that I had a natural talent for it.”

Janine first tried Thai boxing aged 24. She had her first professional fight aged 27 and became a world champion at 30. Around the same time, she began working as a personal trainer, which prompted her to continue learning and to gain new qualifications. She said: “I remember doing my first unit of my foundation degree and just wanting to give up straight away. Academic study was so far removed from what I had known. But I had amazing teachers who picked me up and made sure I got the support I needed. Studying alongside working and competing was tough, but I was determined to keep going.”

In writing Gribet, the title of which refers to a childhood nickname, Janine has found an outlet for sharing her own experiences in a way that she hopes might connect with others. She said: “If you’ve faced trauma in your life, it is hard to confront – you just learn to live with it. Writing the book has been a strange thing to do, but I figured that if I could write an academic paper then I could write a book. I have always enjoyed telling a story and I hope that readers can connect with it just as they would if they were hearing me chat over a drink. I have already had contact from people who have read it and told me it has helped them to know that someone else has been through a similar experience, which is really positive.”

Gribet has been described as an “epic ride through which Janine will show you that whatever you start in life, you can achieve anything with resilience and determination”. It is available online through major booksellers.