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A Women's Sports Alliance Production

England boxer, Sameenah Toussaint was first taken to a Boxing Club by her dad aged 10 and despite dreading the training sessions, she kept showing up. The featherweight struggled being ‘roughed up’ by the boys but soon she was holding her own. She made her Commonwealth Games debut at Birmingham 2022. Since 2015, the 21-year-old has earned six national titles, five junior and one senior, and two European under-22 bronze medals.

Sameenah Toussaint | Entering The Ring | Team England Boxer | Women's Sports Alliance
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A decade ago Sameenah Toussaint could be found hiding at the back of the gym, in her own words “cowering” and hoping people would “forget” she was there. The WSA spent an exclusive afternoon with the champion boxer ahead of Birmingham 2022.


The young girl – who had just turned 10 – was by her own admissions a little shy at that age, but she was also intimidated. The boxing ring did not feel like a place for her.


“I was the only girl and when I did start sparring, the boys either went too easy on me or deliberately tried to batter me,” she recalls. “Sometimes it was a really hostile atmosphere.”


In the years since Toussaint has not only grown in confidence, but stature and this week – unlike the boys she endured as a child – the featherweight makes her Commonwealth Games for England.


The 19-year-old hopes it will be a major step towards following her idol – and ground-breaking boxer Nicola Adams – by becoming an Olympic champion.


“When I enter the ring for the Commonwealths I’m going to be nervous because it’s a massive event, but I’m also going to be very excited because it’s an opportunity,” she tells the Women’s Sports Alliance (WSA).


Learning to Love Boxing…


Eventually As you may have gathered taking up the sport was not Toussaint’s idea. It came from her father who “out of the blue” took her to a local gym in Watford, north London.


He was keen for her to learn about self-defence as a life-skill and although initially reluctant she persevered.


“When I started, I wasn’t actually losing but I wasn’t enjoying training,” she tells the WSA.


“I was quite intimidated being around boys, but when I started competing against other girls and winning that’s when I started to enjoy it more.


“What I like about boxing is that it teaches you a lot of self-discipline and it is good for fitness and it’s very rewarding.


“When I lose a bout it’s devastating, especially when you’ve put in a lot of hard work into it but when you win, you’re buzzing that all the hard work has paid off, it’s crazy!”


Toussaint has experienced much more of the latter of late, claiming two European bronze medals, in addition to her six national titles.


Overcoming Asthma as a Professional Athlete


There have been challenges other than those brought by her male counterparts though. Asthma being one.


“Having asthma and boxing is quite challenging but there are ways to come around it if you condition yourself correctly,” says the Team England boxer.


“Keeping up with your running is important, but that’s hard because most of my minor asthma attacks come from running, like in training before boxing, but that training helps me when I’m in the ring.


“You can definitely be a boxer and have asthma, there are a lot of athletes that have asthma and perform at high levels in sport, so I’d say to others ‘don’t let it phase you’ just handle it as best you can, take your medicine and you’ll be alright.”


Commonwealth Games, Olympics and then…


Toussaint took up the sport around the time of the London 2012 Olympics, which were the first Games to feature women’s boxing.


She was inspired, but until a few years ago Toussaint was focusing on a successful career as an amateur before turning to coaching. She now has bigger targets.


“I’m an ambitious person, I always like to aim high and set big goals for myself,” she states with a smile.


“My dream for my boxing career is to be selected for the Olympics and get a medal, preferably the gold.


“So Paris 2024, or Los Angeles 2028 and then turn pro – that’s what my idols Anthony Joshua and Nicola Adams have done and those two have been very big (inspirations).”


Why Women Should Take up Boxing


Despite the challenges she faced as a child and during her formative teenage years Toussaint is positive about the changes she has witnessed for female boxers and believes it is much welcoming a decade after beginning her own journey in the sport.


“Women’s boxing is definitely expanding the right way, because people are understanding and accepting it more,” says the featherweight, who was supported by funding body SportsAid before joining the full-time GB Boxing programme.


“There’s still a bit of you know, biased opinions and people who see it as ‘not very feminine’ so it needs more work to destigmatise it completely, but it’s improving.


“Beforehand it was a male-dominated sport, but now there are so many females and it’s a good sport for fitness and a good sport for women so they should definitely try it out!”


Follow the WSA’s social channels to find out how Sameenah Toussaint gets on at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games for Team England.

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