The latest episode of Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins shows one of the first female contestants, 29-year-old midwife Louise Gabbitas, competing in a boxing match against a man.
The episode shows Louise, from Cornwall, opting to fight a male contestant, 27-year-old student Nathaniel, rather than take on another woman.
During the fight, Louise can be seen being hit in the face multiple times by Nathaniel before falling to the ground, bruised and in tears, but with her dignity intact.
After her defeat, chief instructor and ex special forces soldier Ant Middleton warned the recruits, ‘The enemy doesn’t care what gender, race or religion you are’.
Following the boxing challenge, an emotional Nathaniel told Louise:
I was trying to not go too aggressive. It was the hardest thing to do.
Reassuring her fellow contestant she was okay, Louise replied:
It’s a head f*ck. I’m not crying because you hurt me. I’m fine.
Prior to the beginning of the show, Louise had stated:
I am stronger than some men that I know, physically and mentally.
#16 one of the hardest things I had to do was face this women, although it messed with me mentally her support through the whole process got me through @louise.gabbitas.89 #21💚#saswhodareswins #whodareswins #military #sas #saswdw #crossfit #fitness #mentalhealthawareness pic.twitter.com/VQOjODwtzC
— Nathaniel #16 (@Nathaniel_16_) January 14, 2019
The Channel 4 show puts contestants through gruelling SAS style training, with Louise’s participation marking the first time women have been allowed to compete on the show.
This change is on account of the Ministry of Defence’s recent decision to let women apply to join frontline troops and the SAS.
Participants were put through their paces during an intense eleven days in the Andes, enduring harsh wintery conditions, with no special treatment offered to anyone.
Middleton informed this year’s batch of recruits:
It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, you need to prove yourself to me.
You come on my course and enter my world, I don’t care who you are or where you’re from, you’re a number until you prove yourself otherwise.
Absolutely buzzing with the attitude on #WhoDaresWins no time for bullshit, gender, religion or any other excuse! Straight to the point 👏🏼 can see a few complaints from the snowflakes
— Pete (@PeteBratley91) January 6, 2019
— Linda Sinclair (@lindajsinclair) January 6, 2019
— Zoe Nelson (@zoenelson8) January 13, 2019
Speaking with Good Morning Britain about her time on the show, Louise described it as being ‘the hardest thing I have ever, ever experienced’.
Referring to her experiences as a midwife, Louise spoke about how she drew strength from women she has assisted through giving birth:
I have seen women do tough things. The hardest physical bodily thing they’ve had to endure, that a woman can go through.
I just channelled that strength.
When asked by Susanna Reid about whether women could ever match up to male contestants in terms of strength, Louise answered:
I think sometimes yes I do agree with you on that. How biologically yes, men are usually physically stronger than women.
However there are stronger women out there.
I'm all for women having this opportunity but modesty is not a luxury u can have when working in those conditions, u want to be with the high fliers u must be equal… #whodareswins
— Becki (@Bex___86) January 6, 2019
— Jenny Saunders (@Jensau) January 13, 2019
I am 100% for equal rights for women and their right to qualify for special forces and for all walks of life. So shave your heads like the lads have to,they have no choice and neither should the girls. Equality right ? #WhoDaresWins
— Simon Hastings (@VoodoosDrummer) January 13, 2019
Louise revealed to the Mirror that she and Nathaniel had talked it out between them:
From the start, we were made aware that we would be treated as equals to the men and that there would be no changes, allowances or exceptions for any of us.
Boxing is a regular task featured in each series so I knew it would come up. I was so physically and mentally drained I didn’t want to fight ANYONE, Male or female. We were all friends by this point. Gender was irrelevant.
However, I had to do it and it was just another task to me. I would have been disappointed if Nathaniel had held back. The task was about being equal and he completed the task as he should have.
I’m thankful for how things turned out. It taught me more about myself. Losing isn’t ideal for someone so competitive, but it proved I am more resilient than I thought I could be.
Nathaniel and I have a good relationship. We’ve discussed the situation at length and I understand I put him in a difficult position. I think how he’s handled it is commendable.
SAS: Who Dares Wins is currently being aired Sundays at 9pm on Channel 4.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.