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Natasha Jones: 'My heroes are Manny Pacquiao...and my nan'


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'My heroes are Manny Pacquiao...and my nan' - Exclusive Natasha Jonas interview.


I’m sure that if you told Natasha Jonas six years ago that one day she would compete at an Olympic Games she would have laughed at you and called you mad.


The 27 year-old Liverpudlian only took up boxing at the age of 21 as a way of getting fit, but now she is on course to feature at this Summer’s Olympics in London in what is a truly amazing story.


As Natasha prepares for her qualifiers in May, BoxRec News caught up with the lightweight prospect to discuss her Olympic dream and find out why Women’s boxing is such a hot topic.


London 2012 is just around the corner. How excited are you to be potentially performing on such a prestigious stage?


Natasha: To have the opportunity to be involved in an Olympic games is a dream come true, but for it to be in your own country is surreal and I can't even put in words how I feel. I was so emotional throughout Beijing and was sceptical about us having the games after China because it was so awesome but I have visited the London sites, been involved in the test events and I know when I qualify it’s going to be unreal and I'll be an emotional wreck!


Most of the time when boxing for GB we attend major competitions which are usually outside of the UK, so to have arguably the biggest and best sporting event in your own backyard is huge for athletes and sports. It’s great for me that I could be rubbing shoulders with some of the worlds sporting elite and childhood heroes.


How is your preparation going? Are you raring to go?


Natasha: My preparation for the games is going well so far, our qualifying event is not until May. The test event was a massive boost for my quest of number one spot and as you can imagine we have a busy schedule ahead. There is added pressure to be on top of your game as we have not yet had our qualifying event, also the lightweight position is being heavily contested within the GB camps (Chantelle Cameron and Amanda Coulson) and there is me and two others competing to go to the one qualifier we have.


We will be attending many training camps and elite competitions with the world’s best teams in the run up to the qualifiers. Training is always hard work and it is true that the training is the hard part and the boxing is the easy part. "Train hard, fight easy" is the well known phrase we use in the gym. What most people don't realise is that a lot of athletes have trained for four years on a vigorous cycle but what the public see is the finished result.


There is lots of blood, sweat and tears behind the scenes that you don't see, we will train ten weeks for a bout that will last eleven minutes. By the time the Olympics comes round I will be raring to go, I never thought it would be in boxing but the Games is something I have waited my whole life to be a part of.


It’s the first time women’s boxing will feature at an Olympic Games. How honoured are you to be a part of it, and what does the inclusion say about how far women’s boxing has come?


Natasha: The inclusion of women’s boxing in London is huge for the athlete that goes and also for the sport in general. It is a testament to how far women in sports have come and how attitudes in sports are changing for the better. A lot of young people will want to try and get involved in the sports, have positive, success role models to aspire to be like. Athletes on the other hand have the chance to showcase their talent in front of a home crowd and the world on the biggest stage possible. Whether I qualify or not just being a part of the setup has been a great experience that will stay with me for a lifetime.


What got you into boxing and how old were you when you started?


Natasha: I started boxing really late. I was a 21 year-old unhappy with the weight I had gained from not being able to train from being injured. I had been unsuccessful in my quest to become a footballer, which was my first sporting love and generally unhappy with the way my life was going. I got involved in boxing an immediately fell in love with the training and the sport.


After playing a lot of team sports where I depended on good performances from others, I enjoyed the gladiatorial feeling of the competitive bouts. I had done other combat sports before when I was younger but had never competed. As a child my parents always encouraged me to be active and I did attend boxing events with my dad but I never thought that one day I'd be in the ring.


Who are your biggest inspirations in and outside the ring?


Natasha: When you hear the stories of Tom Stalker and Anthony Joshua, theirs are absolutely amazing and it’s hard not to be inspired. Also in the professional game it’s great to see role models like Manny Pacquiao, using their influence in such a positive way and being more than a boxer to so many people.


There are other sports stars that are doing wonders in and outside of their sports and their professionalism, commitment and entertainment value are second to none. Jess Ennis and Usain Bolt being just a couple of examples. Outside of the ring my hero is my Nan. She's the most positive, genuinely caring person I have ever known. She is the centre of the family functioning and I hope one day to be as rich in love and success in life as she is!


What are your proudest achievements so far and what chapters are you hoping to write in your wonderful career for the future?


Natasha: Any time you represent your country or win a bout is an achievement but I suppose the more you achieve the more you expect from yourself. When I have stood on the podium, collecting a gold medal and heard the anthem playing, that does take some beating. To do that in the Olympic Games! I couldn't even begin to imagine how I would feel; all I could guarantee is there would be a lot of tears of pride.


Would you like to see a stronger media interest towards women’s boxing, especially with the build up to London 2012?


Natasha: To be honest I have always been well supported by the people of Liverpool and the local press. I always get a lot of exposure and have positive comments from people of the city. Boxing has always been a sport close to the heart of Scousers as we have had a lot of success in the amateur and professional ranks and in the Olympic Games itself. The city is buzzing and I will be representing every Scouse person when I perform in the Olympics I only hope I do them proud!


I personally would just like to focus on the task in hand but obviously people are interested in who, what, when, where, why and how you got involved or do the sport you do. I have already seen a massive increase in media interest and just as long as it remains positive, it can only be good for the sport and participation.


What would you say to young boys and girls on Merseyside and across the country who are thinking about taking up boxing?


Natasha: Anyone thinking of getting involved should at least try it, what's the worst that could happen? Whether it is boxing or any other sport, event or subject I believe that you are never too old to get involved in anything and if you truly want something in life, honestly believe in it and work hard, you will receive the outcome you've always dreamed of. If I can do and achieve all I have in this short space of time imagine what they can achieve with their whole life ahead of them.



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