• Shanell Dargan speaks about the love of her grandmother which put her on the right path. (NITV)Source: NITV
Now a professional boxer, Dargan says it would have been easy for her to follow a "dark path" without the guidance of loving mentors.
Dan Butler

23 Jun 2022 - 3:03 PM  UPDATED 23 Jun 2022 - 3:03 PM

Professional boxer Shanell Dargan has opened up about her early life and the narrow path she walked to success in adulthood. 

The Wiradjuri and Mununjali woman revealed some of the traumas faced by her family, including that her grandmother was a member of the Stolen Generations. 

She says a love of sport led her to boxing. Dargan turned professional this year, and had a "great fight" with No Limit Boxing, a promotion company that works closely with First Nations athletes. 

"You know growing up, [there was] a lot of trauma, a lot of anger, pain," she told NITV's Feeding the Scrum program. 

"And I turned to boxing. I found boxing was a great outlet for me emotionally, physically, mentally. I had a great coach, Aaron, who believed in who I was and my ability."

'Singing was my passion'

Her coach is not the only mentor she's credits with her success in adult life. It's also down to the love of family, and her pursuits as a child. 

"I always played footy," she told host Bo de la Cruz. 

"I started playing rugby league when I was 11 with the boys... I hold Redfern close to my heart, the Knockout as well."

It wasn't only the physical pursuits that kept the young Dargan busy, however. She has an artistic side as well, which took her all the way to the Big Apple. 

"Singing was my passion," she said.

"I started singing when I was six years old. My nan put that on me, and I gigged around, up until I went on the X-Factor in 2014!

"I went to New York and got to sing in front of John Legend."

Dargan says the inherited traumas of her family could have meant her life took a very different path. 

"Both my parents were in and out of prison... Yeah, my nan took me under her wing and raised me.

"100 per cent, I think for me it would have been easy to go down that dark path, to go to jail or get involved with drugs. Because that's something that I knew. 

Dargan says growing up with several cousins at her nan's household are fond memories, especially when it comes to food. 

"I grew up in Campbelltown, so my best friends were Chinese, South African, Aboriginal, Iraqi, Islanders...

"Nan didn't eat! She had the biggest mob [at her house]."

Tune into Feeding The Scrum, Tuesdays 9pm on NITV or catch up on SBS On Demand.

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