After one round in the ring with Olympic hopeful Natasha Jonas, I was left inspired, impressed, and severely out of breath.
Natasha helped me brush up on my combinations, as well as giving me some fitness tips and some female perspectives on boxing.
Women’s boxing in the Olympics has finally been added to the bill, after International Olympic Committee chiefs lifted the barrier on the last all-male sport. There will be three weight classes for women added to the competition, in comparison to the 12 weight groups for the men.
When Natasha was asked how she felt about this, she told JMU Journalism: “Obviously there’s still a little bit of inequality there but I’m just happy that women are going to be able to take part.”
As I sparred with Natasha in the ring at Rotunda ABC, the place where it all started for the boxer, I could feel the adrenaline and the excitement that can come from being face to face with an opponent. Jonas said: “The way you’re getting excited now, that’s how I felt when I started out, and that’s why I’m still here.”
The 27-year-old from Toxteth is an inspiration to all young women, starting her boxing career at 21 just as a way to get fit. This led to the young boxer quickly improving her strength and moved from the ladies class to take on men at the gym in Kirkdale, Liverpool.
She added: “I never started training with an intention of getting in the ring, it just happened.”
Natasha doesn’t look or act like your stereotypical fighter, with a permanent wide smile, a pretty face, and a polite and gentle manner of speaking.
However, all that changes when she pulls on her boxing gloves.
With recent press reports discussing the possibility of the female boxers having to wear skirts for the Olympic Games next year, Natasha didn’t seem too keen on the idea.
She said: “It hasn’t gone ahead yet and Team GB haven’t mentioned anything about it being a final decision. Obviously if you have to wear them, I will have to, in my opinion I wouldn’t want to wear one but I can see it being optional if it does come about.”
As the only professional female boxer at a club surrounded by men for the past few years, anyone would expect that it must be hard for a female to earn respect in the sport and the gym. Natash revealed: “I suppose at first it was a bit weird, but I love everyone here, it’s like a family.
“That’s the only reason I’m back here every Friday, just to see everyone, see how the kids are getting on. It’s amazing to see how the youngest lads, that started when I did. And now they’re growing up and winning titles, it’s really weird to see. I have so much respect for the trainers here; I’ve never lost a fight with them backing my corner.”
The contenders for the women’s boxing will be announced before June next year, and Natasha describes the fact that she may be in the competition as “surreal”, but there is no question that’s she has worked hard enough to get there.
Let’s hope in July next year we will be watching Liverpool’s Natasha Jonas receive the first Olympic gold medal for women’s boxing on that podium.