'Evil Edna' - the boxing Granny who is packing a punch for pensioners
A sprightly 82-year-old, who compares herself with boxing legend Henry Cooper, has been packing a mean punch in Wythenshawe.
Normally Edna Cobain is a mild-mannered pensioner who likes nothing better than to knit or sew – but put her in front a Wii fit boxing programme and the slight granny will show you she’s no lightweight.
Edna has been taking part in the Wii fit exercise classes as part of the training ahead of the forthcoming Wythenshawe Games. The nine-day event is the town’s own version of the Olympics and involves all members of the community, including the area’s elderly.
Thanks to help from three students at the Manchester Health Academy, pensioners who use the Crossacres Resource Centre, through Age Concern Manchester, were given instruction in how to use a Nintendo Wii. And, they showed such prowess, that it was decided to create a Wii fitness category within Wythenshawe Games.
So now, Edna – who calls herself ‘Evil Edna’ in the ring - and other companions have been training for the Games, where additional Wii fit categories include bowling, step and even learning the Michael Jackson Thriller routine.
Edna says: “The Wii fitness programme has opened a whole new world for us and I’d like it to help more old people. It gets people active and it improves your confidence.
“When I’m boxing against my friend Marilyn I really go for it and give a good wallop which exercises all my upper body.”
To date, Edna has landed two knockout punches and bases her moves on Henry Cooper.
“I’m crafty like Cooper,” she says. “That’s how he managed to beat Muhammad Ali.”
The sessions have also brought back cherished memories for Edna of husband Wilfred who died 25 years ago.
“Wilfred was in the Services,” she says. “He was very protective and always wanted to make sure I could look after myself. He would show me how to defend myself and get out of various locks.
“If he’s watching me now from Heaven I think he’d have a good laugh seeing me boxing. He died a long time ago, but I still live on those memories.”
Physically Edna has also benefitted from the exercise classes. She is under consultant care and feels invigorated by the exercise.
She says: “I just want my consultant to give me the go ahead to do even more. I’d knock 10-bells out of my opponent then!
“Some of the security staff at the Forum know me and my friends and they have a giggle with us and call us the Wythenshawe Mafia.”
She may have a light-hearted approach to her training, but one thing Edna is serious about is the potential of Wythenshawe and the people who live there.
“I love this place,” she says. “The people are so kind. I’ll give you an example. On the Bank Holiday Monday I fell outside Asda and hit my head. Four young girls stopped straight away and couldn’t do enough to help me. They called one of my sons, sorted out my shopping and waited until an ambulance came. And then, when the ambulance arrived one of the crew even dropped my shopping in at home for me. This is typical of Wythenshawe. I’d love to find out who the four girls are so that I can thank them properly.”
Councillor Glynn Evans, Executive Member for Adults Health and Wellbeing, added: “I applaud Edna’s fighting spirit. And I’d also very much like to thank the girls who helped Edna when she fell. I’m hoping that they will read this story and come forward. Edna is absolutely right, that community spirit is what defines Wythenshawe and that’s something we all want to champion.”