There are few more exposing television shows than The Apprentice. With every move being scrutinised by Lord Alan Sugar, if you’re not up to the task, you will quickly be found out.
That was the challenge Marnie Swindells had to overcome when she entered series 17 of the show at the start of this year.
Her idea of opening her first boxing gym in Camberwell, south London, looked to be an optimistic one, and Sugar certainly needed convincing after initial scepticism.
Yet slowly but surely, Swindells won him around, and was eventually crowned the winner in a dramatic final episode.
Sugar has since invested £250,000 to help Swindells achieve her dream of opening her new gym, Bronx, capping off a whirlwind year for the 28-year-old, who has admitted life has never quite been the same since her triumph.
Marnie Swindells (left) was crowned the winner of The Apprentice by Lord Sugar (right) earlier this year
Swindells has admitted her life has changed dramatically since winning the show
‘It’s changed in so many ways, some better some worse,’ Swindells told Mail Sport.
‘Initially coming out of the process, it was hard to get through things without scrutiny. Everything I would post, everything I would say, people would have commentary on. That was difficult.
‘But in the same breathe, it meant everybody was watching. More eyes were on Bronx so from that perspective I probably couldn’t have done that on my own. So having the show and Lord Sugar’s help with bringing more eyes to what I was doing was really beneficial.’
Swindells wanted to produce a gym that welcomed all-comers, from complete novices to professional athletes.
With Bronx now firmly up and running, Swindells confirmed she has stayed true to her principles.
‘I think that’s something I’m really proud of and that has panned out exactly as I planned it to and anticipated,’ she added.
‘It was always about creating that middle option, and even just within the space of the gym itself, keeping the integrity in the spirit of an amateur gym, but having the style and the professional execution of a more high-end gym, and that is something I do feel like we’ve nailed.
‘We have everybody. We have people who’ve never put a pair of gloves on in their life walk through the doors, all the way through to people like (heavyweight contender) Joe Joyce who visited the gym. So we’ve had the whole breadth of people, which is exactly as I imagined.’
Swindells’ ambition to open a boxing gym started several years ago, and she has now got it over the line.
So, what was the overriding emotion when Bronx finally flung its doors open for the first time? Relief? Pride? Not quite.
‘It’s hunger, I want more!’ Swindells revealed. ‘I got the keys for this gym back in 2019, and through issues with the lease, or the council, or the tenants, it just took so long to get to this point where we could get in there. We didn’t get in there until February this year to start trading.
‘So for all those years I thought my biggest dream was just to open this gym, and now I’ve got it, all I find myself doing is looking for what’s next. I’m really hungry to move on and get the next one done.
‘If anything, what I thought was going to really satisfy me when I got to this point, it’s just made me more urgent to hit the next milestone. That’s ultimately what me and Lord Sugar are doing at the minute.’
Swindells is hungry for more after opening her Bronx boxing gym in Camberwell
There can be no doubting Swindells’ passion for boxing. Having previously taken up the sport herself as a teenager, she is now determined to aid the next generation.
Opening more gyms is certainly on the horizon, but Swindells is also keen on trying her hand at promoting, believing she has all the attributes to thrive in the role.
Promoters tend not to be the most popular people, with boxing fans quick to turn on the likes of Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren if they don’t get the fights they want to see.
This doesn’t concern Swindells, though, who showed her resilience on The Apprentice and in her previous job as a court advocate, and she is prepared to ruffle a few feathers to make her mark.
‘I’m thick-skinned, and using a boxing analogy, I really can take it on the chin. Not much fazes me,’ she explained.
‘I’ve gone from fighting myself where you literally take the knocks, to being in a courtroom where a judge and opposing counsel will just eat away at your spirit.
‘And you just have to keep standing there, being resilient, fighting back, and I think that is something I could definitely bring into promoting. I’m not a sensitive soul, I think I can hack it.
‘I have been thinking very strongly about what would make me stand out as a boxing promoter – aside from just being the only female who would be doing it – how I can really look at boxing with fresh eyes. It’s a very old-school sport that’s been done the same way for so long.
‘I think it needs someone to have a shake-up of the whole system and really look at a different way of doing things.’
Swindells has wasted little time in building on her Apprentice success, and has no plans to take her foot off the gas now.
She admits she still has more work to do before jumping into the promoting world, but makes no secret of the fact she wants to go right to the top, and has outlined a potential timeframe for her move into the industry.
Swindells previously boxed herself, and now has her sights set on going into promoting
Eddie Hearn (left) and Frank Warren (right) are two of the biggest promoters in the UK, but Swindells thinks the sport needs ‘fresh eyes’ and a major ‘shake-up’
‘I’m impatient! But I also don’t want to rush this,’ Swindells said. ‘There are still a lot of things about the pro boxing world that I still have to learn.
‘I’ll only step into that world when I think I’m ready and I can take it by storm. I don’t want to do a half-hearted small attempt at it. I want to go all the way. But having said that, I would like that to at least be within the next two years.’
Swindells has proven she is not afraid to challenge herself over the past 12 months, and her bold approach has paid off.
As she sets her sights on becoming a leading promoter, it would be brave to bet against her continuing her rapid rise.