Source: Pitch/Sports Direct

Q & A with Natasha Jonas as she promotes Sports Slam

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Celebrating the opening of new Sports Direct Manchester Arndale flagship store, Everlast boxer Natasha Jonas hosted 15 local school children for Sports Slam – Sports Direct’s children’s sports initiative which encourages kids to take part in at least 60 minutes of activity a day.

Natasha, who is WBO, WBC and IBF female light-middleweight champion of the world, answered the following questions while hosting a class for the local children:

On becoming the first woman to win BBBoC British Boxer of the Year Award: “Just being in the top three was very humbling, to think of all the people who had won it before me and being put in that category. I’m so proud because there were two other women in there, but also proud of my achievements. It’s nice to be able to look back and feel proud. I’m so happy to reflect on the hard work from myself and the rest of the team.”

On what 2023 has in store:  “Hopefully 2023 can be just as big. How we do that I’m not sure but we will try. Hopefully, I’ll have three fights and may even change weight divisions to go back down and challenge for more titles.”

On what advice she would give to young people looking to get into boxing: “My advice for getting into boxing is to just go and experience it. There are a lot of misconceptions about the gym and that environment, but you become a big family and look out for each other. Everyone is in the same boat and will help you through the sessions. The first and hardest step is just going into the gym and that will help you breakdown any previous issues. You will enjoy it.”

On the why initiatives like Sports Slam are so important: “I’m one of those people who genuinely believes there is a sport out there for everybody and you can participate at any level. You may not want to be a pro or Olympian but you can take part in a sport at your own leisure and it be enjoyable. The fact schools can access this equipment will open a lot of eyes. I tried hundreds of sports before boxing – I never thought I would get into it. The fact that I just went and tried it and enjoyed it is testament to that. I enjoy loads of other sports but boxing is my niche. Everyone has different tastes so it’s invaluable to try different things as you never know where you will end up.”

On the message she would give to her 10-year-old self:  “Would be keep believing and keep going. That’s basically it. Everything I’ve been through – the good, bad has helped me become the person, athlete and mum I am now. It’s important to have the highs but it’s the lows that give you character and drive you on to succeed. They are just as important so I would tell myself to keep believing and never give up.”

On the impact of her achievements on the next generation: “As athletes, you are always so focused on the result that you don’t appreciate things in the moment. I know after the Olympics there was a 64% increase in carded females. I know we contributed to that, but you don’t appreciate it until you stop and look back. We both know deep down that there are little girls across England and in Liverpool that look at us and say wow we want to be like them. It’s mad to think about but it’s so lovely to hear when people call me their hero. You just don’t appreciate it at the time.”

On taking women’s boxing to the next level:  “It’s weird because at a level boxing is no different. Funding and everything else requires you meeting the criteria which usually involves a medal or Olympic qualification. It’s the same for men and women but I would like to see more of a platform for women. It’s only ever the biggest events that can televised like the Commonwealth Games or the Olympics – but it’s missed that there is a 4 year cycle. Domestically I would like to see more attention and trace the development of female athletes versus assuming everyone is the finished product. It’s getting a lot better but the world needs to see it on a consistent basis, especially regarding economic support from sponsors.”

On the importance of including boxing in schools more:  “It’s very important. There are so many stereotypes attached that you can lose sight of the skills that underpin the sport, hand eye coordination and balance, listening and communicating. These skills can transcend sport into general life. The bigger picture is that boxing has helped me communicate with people, be focused and disciplined. I’m now more reliable and have developed all the skills an employer would be looking for. There is a much bigger picture than just hitting someone. There are so many other facets that help in life.”

On her training regime: “I train six days a week with two sessions a day. Monday, Wednesday, Friday is boxing and a run. Boxing is two hours and the run is never more than an hour and never less than 30. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday I do strength and conditioning for an hour then another cardio session. Normally low impact on an assault bike, or even go swimming.”