AIR DATE: Mar 31 2021 09:28UTC
EPISODE: Episode 31
Jennifer Huggins | Olympic Update | Talkin’ Fight
Join us on our on-going exploration of the Olympics to be held in Tokyo 2021, featuring Christian from the Friday Night Panel, and the route to the ring. Watch TalkinFight weekdays at 12, 4, 7, and 8:30pm EST on YouTube or LIVE at talkinfight.com/live @Olympic @IOC Media
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Hello there talking fight fans around the world.
Thank you once again for joining christian myself on another episode on the olympics.
Although today we have a very special guest joining us, uh jennifer huggins will be joining us and uh christian’s, going to take the time uh to read a very extensive and excellent bio.
I must say uh and we are very proud to have her join us.
So uh i’ll just throw it over to you christian uh, because i do not have time to actually yeah.
I do not have the time, and neither do you guys to read her entire bio uh, so we’re not going to we’re gon na we’re gon na.
Let her do a lot of the talking on this one.
Actually, variety is the spice of life is the mantra by which the ball of energy, known as jennifer huggins lives her life now jennifer owns and operates the kingsway boxing club in toronto.
She is a three-star international boxing referee and judge with the aiba.
She is the president of the board of directors for boxing ontario.
She is also the chief official for boxing ontario.
She sits on the gender equity advisory group for boxing canada, as well as the canadian officials commission.
She also also operates the fight to end cancer in partnership with princess margaret hospital and when she’s not doing any of these things, she’s traveling the world getting sawn in half.
So, let’s bring her on that’s and find out where she has the time to do all these things.
I’M still i’m still in one piece: it’s been about a year since i’ve been sawing half half because of the uh covet.
Thank you well.
We’Re glad we’re glad to see that you’re in one piece and we’re glad that you were able to take the time out of your obviously very busy schedule to uh to find the time to be with us here today.
So i guess we should start with the logical uh in the logical space here, which is, of course, figure skating.
I guess that would be logical right.
It’S on my it’s on my resume.
So well, that’s where that’s where we start.
Uh you’ve always been a competitor, but it didn’t begin in the ring.
It started off uh on the on the ice, so tell us about that.
Yeah, so i mean i’m in the ring now actually sitting on the ring right now uh, but it started off in the rink uh.
When i was maybe i guess it would have been about five years old, very competitive person.
I i think my parents recognized that i, my brother was getting into skating because he needed to learn how to skate.
So he didn’t look silly.
I guess on the ice with his friends at school and just like every little sister i was like well, i want to do what my big brother is doing and, of course i was always competitive with my big brother, which he would not have the same words To say about me: he didn’t he didn’t like how competitive i was because i just wanted to be better than him.
I think that was my only goal um and then, basically from there, my competitive spirit, just drove me into competing uh ended up going to the national level for figure skating, both in singles and in dance.
My brother actually ended up being my dance partner, which is a totally different story in itself.
I you know, i would recommend this to any parent, any parent, listening or watching this right now do not put your children into a sport where they have to look into each other’s eyes and quote unquote.
Look like you want to.
You know make love to the person, because that’s what dance and tango and all of the that is just not it’s not doesn’t make for a great uh future, so it makes for therapy bills.
Oh, my gosh totally totally again another story, so we uh we competed together and i competed for about 10 years.
At the you know, competitive national level and then ended up facing a pretty serious injury which led me into the boxing ring long story short.
So were you: were you headed towards an olympic run on the ice before uh before your accident yeah? So that was it was.
That was my dream.
It was definitely the pathway i was on.
I was 14 years old at the time when i was at the senior level, which would be the highest level you can be for singles.
I was junior national with my brother as a dance partner uh.
I think that if i’d stayed on track with the sport that that was kind of that those were the steps i was taking.
So you know provincial national international competition uh.
However, i was lacking in now.
Looking back, i was lacking a lot of the the components that i found out just before this interview that graham’s mother was a judge, so maybe she might might have been able to give a little more insight.
But i think that i was lacking at 14 years old.
I think i was lacking on some of the um.
You know the merit that you know of the artistic merit and you have the technical technical.
I was great but artistically.
I was not necessarily you know.
The performer i am today that can get cut up and uh cut in half on stage and then come out in one piece.
I wasn’t there yet as a 14 year old so on the pathway – yes, but not necessarily uh, not necessarily there.
Quite yet fair, fair enough, fair enough, and you said there was an accident that took you away from the skating world, though uh i don’t want to go.
You know dig up too many painful memories, but you tell us a little bit about the accident yeah and how that led you into boxing um.
It led me into boxing and more importantly, led me into i think, a leadership coaching role within the sport of boxing and has defined the person.
I am today so long story short on that one.
I fractured my c3 when i was figure skating at 14 years old as a result of a fall.
However, probably the fracture didn’t occur until the coaching team that i was working with encouraged me to continue pushing through the symptoms of what i had already injured myself.
Doing i was feeling some numbness in my hands numbness in my feet, and it was that turning point in life when you realized that your coaches or as a coach, you are, you know, 100, that person who is in control and it’s a very big responsibility and As a 14 year old, you know child who had only dreams of going to the olympics.
I had no friends, i had you know very little family and the only thing i had the only goal i had was to go to the olympics.
So i would listen without question to my coaches and if the coach says keep going, i’m gon na keep going.
So i think that was a very you know, pivotal moment in my life to learn how important it is to you know, really realize your responsibility, but also you know, even if you have doubts that that athlete or that person, you know really is feeling any kind Of pain – or you know, maybe they’re over exaggerating, you know what better be safe than sorry and my motto actually now as a referee and judge, which i’m sure we’re going to get to is, i would rather stop 1000 bouts too soon than one vote too late And that is 100 how i operate in life as a coach as a person as an official, and i think that that is something that i will never.
You know regret my experience that i went through as a as a 14 year old athlete because it really has defined the way that i’ll treat people now so for those at home who don’t have a degree in kinesiology there, your c3 – that’s that’s up here right! That’S in the neck, so it’s it’s the spot that between your c3 and c4, that if you sever that nerve, you are now quadriplegic.
So the reason i was feeling numbness in my hands and my feet was because there was a pinching from frustration, yeah yeah.
So i was spent about two months in hospital.
The recovery was actually quite quick, considering um i was in traction and for those of you guys who don’t know what traction is.
You know you see people in those halos well before you get into one of those halos you’re in bed, and you have weights attached to your neck and you’re on valium you’re, on a lot of medication to try to relax the muscles to be able to make Sure that the recovery happens in a way that doesn’t compress that nerve.
So it’s a it’s a it’s an experience in itself.
I was at sickkids hospital have so much.
You know so much grateful feelings towards everything and the help that i received when i was there, and you know it’s just it’s an experience that you don’t wish on anybody.
But if you look for silver linings, it’s definitely made me the person i am today.
So you know turning to boxing as part of the rehab from this injury, correct, uh kind of because i’m just i’m trying to follow i’m trying to follow the head space going all right.
Well, i’ve had a neck fracture.
So again, i’m going to turn as a therapeutic rehab getting punched in the head repeatedly.
That’S it’s! I’M seeing a disconnect here to like walk me through that decision, so i you know again very long story short.
I found my way into a boxing club during the rehab, so it wasn’t part of the rehab, but during my rehab and the funds that were supposed to be used towards that and the timing that was supposed to be used towards the rehab.
I kind of shifted into boxing myself as a i know, personal decision at 17 years old, so 16 between the ages of 16 and 17.
I did try to go actually the the transition really was that i went back to skating tried to do it for a little while tried to coach for a little while found out that the politics and figure skating actually far away the politics in boxing um.
I wasn’t, i wasn’t loving the sport, i was loving, the you know the aspect of coaching and you know helping and being being the person that i was in the sport, but not necessarily loving the sport that i was in anymore.
I think i i recognized that it was not.
It wasn’t a healthy sport, it wasn’t a healthy mentality for me to be pursuing, but i didn’t know what i was doing when i walked into the boxing gym and just started hitting things and was like wow.
This is incredible, and you know i just being the competitive person i am was like.
Well, it’s not enough that i hit stuff.
I want to see where this can take me.
Can i go to the olympics and, interestingly enough, at that time you know i found out the olympics didn’t exist for women at that time, when i first got involved with it.
So you know my pathways changed and you know i still feel like i miss being an athlete and i will take every opportunity i can to compete in whatever i can compete in, but but yeah.
That was the kind of transition for me and it just.
It happened – and i was very lucky to be resourceful enough to find my way through at the time, because there wasn’t very many resources for athletes, especially young athletes, and especially female athletes in the sport at the time.
Okay – and i do want to talk uh – definitely about the coaching and about the boxing club as well, but just before we get to that um, let’s, let’s, let’s just circle back real quickly to getting son in half for uh for a living.
So when we’re not boxing, we are traveling the world as a magician’s assist assistant for uh.
Richard forget, if uh correct me, if i’m wrong on that one yeah, you got it, you got it right.
I call him forget because he always forgets everything.
Well, i was trying not to i was i i had to think about it before.
I said it out loud, graham, and i both like to think that we’re fairly well traveled people we’ve both easily got at least a dozen countries under our belts over the years.
Moving around but uh you’re you’re lapping us you’re doing circles around us with the travel you’ve done with uh with richard forget as well as uh as a referee, so talk.
How did you end up as a magician’s assistant, so i would say that you know all that uh technical merit that i was gaining points in when i was skating.
Uh was great and then i was lacking in the artistic merit.
You know there’s those two components: a judge, sport as well, and at 18 years old.
I got this opportunity, one of my friends i i kind of went wayward for from the ages 15 to about 21.
When i started my boxing gym, i was in this like i was a really fun person to know.
I was everywhere anywhere.
I would take any job that i could get it was.
It was fun, it was dangerous.
I you know had anything from motorcycle accidents to traveling with my magician to you know, egypt, and it’s it’s incredible, so i found my way to this magician through a friend of mine who, you know told me one day hey.
I found this job off of a kijiji ad or something along those lines and she’s a dancer, and i said what is it and she told me: well i’m going to be traveling with this magician.
First, we’re going to go to la and then i’m going to you know.
I don’t know if you guys have heard of the magic castle in la it’s a very popular venue there, so she was going to la then she went to perform for the prince of monte, carlo and then she ended up in france and on the um, the Pluton carpory de monde, which is like a very incredible tv, show that since it’s been canceled, i think, but it had a good 50 years, i believe not maybe maybe 40 years of um air time across the world, and you know so.
She had this incredible lineup of this travel and i mean up until i was 15 i’d, never really left north america, so i was like.
Oh my gosh tell me how i can get involved with this.
What how do i do this? You know, i’m a dancer.
I’Ve got my background and she said well, listen if i ever can’t make it on a trip i’ll, let you know well.
She ended up quitting halfway through the uh, the tour and she was like hey jen.
I got this great opportunity because i went to la to stay in la.
I found a guy and i’m going to go, get married to him like for reasons we don’t know but um.
You know it’s uh, so she decided she was going to move to la in the middle of the tour, so i ended up filling her spot in so i kind of fell into that as well and just have become he’s richard fergie is now one of my.
I would say best friends, longest time, friends for sure, and he basically you know it’s a real trust when you’re traveling with someone like that i’d lied about my age.
Talking about trust, i told them that i was 25 or 26 because i thought that was like the age where people can trust people, i’m like yeah, 18 years old, he’s not going to take me on tour with him but 26.
You know for sure.
So i ended up telling him that i was 26 years old and uh and he believed it and i think he told me he was like 40 and he might have been like 50.
, so i believed it and then later on uh, you know we’ve known each Other for 16 years now – and he you know, has divulged me since his actual age, i’ve, let him know my real age and i caught up i caught up to my real age, so that was good but yeah.
So that’s how that happened, and i’ve been around the world and back again with him.
You know multiple times, thanks to an incredible journey that he’s.
You know taken me on, and i love it now in preparation for having this conversation with you today.
I did take some time and watch a few of his videos as well just to kind of get an idea of the sort of thing that you’re doing, and it is not.
You know your traditional just you know get in the box.
You’Ve been sawing in half sort of stuff, we have progressed a little bit farther uh and i noticed that you do.
You are able to work a lot of your athleticism uh into his show as well as well as the skating.
I did see a clip or two with you on skates on stage as part of that show.
So do you uh? Do you still train at all? In skating or dance, or do you find that the time that you spend in the boxing gym is keeping you fit and limber enough to uh meet with uh the demands of the show? Well, listen! I’M in my 30s now and somebody told me it might have been my mother – that you know when you turn 30 or when you turn 40, your body’s not going to do what it does.
You know you don’t bounce back as fast so uh when i’m on tour with rich.
So actually the the last tour i took was uh at the end of last or the end of 2019, like many people, and that was, i didn’t – realize the last tour i was going to be on last time.
I was going to be performing for quite a long time um and i get a lot of every every show.
Sometimes two shows per day.
I will get on the stage and i’ll be skating, and luckily it’s not too intense.
I think it’s like a total of one minute and if you’ve watched any of richard’s um acts he’s a stage he’s considered a stage illusionist.
So he’s not, you know necessarily doing all of the girl get into the box, get chopped up uh, it’s very.
It’S very theatrical and i have to say that it’s it opened my eyes.
I had no idea when you hear a magician you’re waiting for a trick.
You know people ask me all the time hey.
Can you do something and i can do stuff, i’m horrible.
That’S why i’m the assistant and it’s a great contrast to the life that i live here in canada because or you know around the world as an official, because i’m really not that important on stage.
But it’s what i do kind of side stage or behind the scenes that makes the the show happen uh.
So it’s it is pretty cool.
I do keep in shape uh when i’m on tour and then, when i’m here in the gym lately, because we’ve been shut down from covid, i’m not as in good of shape, and my body is definitely feeling the lack of activity um.
But i i do.
I do work the activity into my life.
I have a really hard time doing things if it’s not for a purpose, so you know going and skating around.
You know my gym, for example, to try to practice for a show would be what i typically do, or you know, holding pads for an athlete and feeling like i’m actually working out, because i need to that’s easy for me because that’s when an athlete does they Do things for a purpose now to go on a treadmill or to do lift weights or wake up and do push-ups like i’m having a hard time? I’M not gon na lie, i’m having a hard time motivating myself, because the outcome is not necessarily there’s.
No there’s nothing in sight right now, so i have to get past that mental block as well.
So i struggle with a lot of the same things that our clients struggle with.
So let’s talk about your clients.
Let’S talk about the gym.
You started kingsway boxing club in 2006.
Now you know you walked into the gym.
You said you hit a few things and then you had you know that was your life, your light bulb moment.
You said this is what i want to take.
My and my boundless energy and direct it towards is boxing.
So what was the decision to open your own club as opposed to just training out of other clubs? You know what the and this is something i’ve spoken about in previous interviews.
It’S very funny to think that you know one thought will lead to so many different outcomes and my thought process at the time when i first started boxing was, i need my own gym so that i can train and get myself to.
You know go pro or to represent my country or you know.
I really thought, and i mean that sounds silly and it is if you look at you know now that i know the realistic pathway and the journey you have to take to become an elite boxer.
I was going down the completely wrong road for the you know, or the right road for the wrong reason um.
So i i think that what happened was i.
I really thought that i needed my own space to to turn pro and it wasn’t this it wasn’t.
You know you’re sitting inside of you know 4 000 square foot gym right now, but you know it wasn’t that it was my apartment at the time and i just wanted to find a way to.
I was all this time i was going traveling with a magician.
I was working nightclubs.
I used to be a nightclub security.
I was riding my motorcycles.
I used to own a motorcycle shop.
I was you know, trying to work out.
I was trying to train, i was trying to compete and i thought okay.
Well, what do i do to consolidate all that into one spot get my clients.
I was personal trainer on top of that, get my clients to come to me so that i can actually put more time into training myself.
So that was the intention, but what happens when you start a business? And you know you guys, i’m sure you can contest any of this when you start a business you’re, not in it for yourself anymore, you’re in it for the community you’re in it, for the people that you’re trying to take care of, and that shift was another Accident that was an incredible outcome, because i basically ended up with a boxing gym that i outgrew within two months and i had to open another location and then another location, and it was purely by accident, but with the best intentions.
So i think that’s something that will always sit in the back of my mind as long as you have the right intentions.
You’Ve got your core values that you know the outcomes that come from it, i’m not, as i don’t think, i’m as goal-oriented for lack of a better kind of explanation.
As i used to be i’m more, you know.
Here’S where i want to go right now, especially with covid here’s, where i want to go right now and whatever outcomes that are great from there, the you know, byproduct of that action will be i’ll, be proud of very cool.
So what what space do you find that the kingsway uh boxing club is filling in this industry that we’re not seeing in other gyms? What’S setting king’s way apart? You know again, uh, probably another.
Another mistake that is incredible.
Was that um and it’s not a mistake.
I’M using the word mistake only because it wasn’t purposeful action um five years into opening my gym.
I was 2011.
I decided that you know.
I don’t feel good, because i’m paying my rent, i’m not struggling.
I was used to struggling.
I was used to you know where i’m going to find this money to pay my rent and the rent is very expensive in toronto.
I had two locations, not because you know i wanted to grow bigger, but because i ran out of space and you know i i wanted to pay my rent and i was doing that and by five years into my gym i was like well, i’ve got my Rent and surplus, what am i i felt guilty? What am i going to do with this money? You know the only reason i have this money coming in is because the clients of mine and my boxers, they believe in me, and they believe in the vision and they they buy in and they support and they invest in in this thing that i’ve created – and I had this guilt that well, what am i giving back to them? Yeah sure, i’m a great you know i’m a great coach, if i don’t say so myself, but is that enough – and it wasn’t for me so that was actually when i took the step into starting the fight to end cancer.
Um again didn’t realize how big it was going to become it was with the intention of, and i’m sure this is probably going to come up in the interview.
But it was the intention it was the intention of uh supporting one of our members directly and then as well.
You know a fight that doesn’t just affect you know myself and the people that were important to me at the moment, but it affects the community.
But i had no idea how big of a movement that was going to become and 10 years later now it’s definitely become one of the main things of what what represents king’s way so bring it back to your question.
You know what separates kings away from.
Maybe the rest of the boxing gems, i think boxing gyms are incredible.
I have nothing to say that would be negative against any other boxing gym and other gyms are doing very you know similar, but maybe different things to invest back in the community, but i think that our theme, while i i wish we had more competitive um athletes Right now we had a more competitive program.
I think the reason why we’re still here during covet, where we haven’t been open, like this, is as empty as it’s been for the past four months, and then we had the first shutdown as well is not because of our competitive programs, which would be great, but Because of the investment we make into the community – and you know anything that goes beyond what we need to pay rent always ends up investing back into our programs to give back or into fighting cancer.
That is really for not the sport of boxing, but you know definitely has good outcomes for that sport.
We’Re definitely going to talk a little bit about the uh, the charity a little later so we’ll circle back to that one for sure how how your your early experience as a you know growing up as a very competitive athlete.
Now we know we covered that as it was figure skating at the time, not boxing, but how in being pushed through an injury? How has that affected your coaching style when you’re dealing with young fighters now in your gym, my coaching style and even my officiating style? So i mean that’s, that’s the other side of what i do with boxing outside of the gym and outside of this country, i’m traveling the world, you know refereeing and judging – and you know the refereeing side, is you know again what i said.
Our motto was to you know: you have to i’d, rather stop a thousand fights too early than one fight too late um.
That is, you know, essentially my experience as an as a as an athlete, i’m very competitive.
So i have to say, i’ve grown a lot as a coach, because i could only see things through the lens that i understood you know sports to be, and i was very competitive athlete coached by you know, russians and by eastern european.
You know uh the mentality and it really is a different mentality.
You go to eastern europe, you go to cuba and they have a playbook and if you don’t play by that book, there’s no place for you, and i think that that was my mentality.
When i first came into coaching, it was like that.
That’S all i understood, but i still move forward with the understanding that this is a big responsibility and that, no matter what my impact it needs to be positive, because my the impact i had from a lot of the coaches i worked with and the outcomes that You are now aware of that.
I endured were because the coaches kind of would run through you and if you weren’t good for them or weren’t good enough for elite, then you weren’t good enough for anything in their realm of the world.
So i think that the one thing that i took from that was that every single person who walks into my gym anyone who i work with as a coach um, anyone who leaves their session you know, even if it’s just you know their very first and only Session they’ll ever do as a boxer.
They need to feel not only good about themselves but like they’ve, taken something away from it.
That’S constructive that and i’m proud of them for even just stepping into the ring, and i think that that is that’s probably as a coach.
What i’ve taken from being coached and from being an elite athlete um, because that transition is a horrible transition that every elite athlete will face at some point in their life? You know, even if it’s on the best of you know cases best circumstances.
I mean you look at tiger woods.
Hopefully he gets back into golfing, but i mean usually there’s some sort of some form of tragedy that is um associated with the end of somebody’s career and a lot of the times.
It has to do with just not being selected for a team, and this is kind of the transitional process that i hope to help with athletes in the future.
That’S excellent! Now you mentioned just a moment ago that the other side of what you’re working on here is obviously the refereeing and the judging side.
So you know we, the fight fans, we rarely kind of spare a thought for the officials and the referees they’re.
Often these faceless people in the ring or next to the ring that we, the viewers, the fans from the comfort of our living rooms and online, like the hurl abuse at um, this could be a pretty thankless job.
So what made you jump? Uh, you know into that side of things as opposed to staying in the fighters corner and sticking to coaching.
Well, i’ve definitely screamed possibly at my tv, possibly at you during the you know the african olympic qualifiers a few years ago, for example among other large tournaments, that you’ve been a part of so i’ve done some screaming, and i apologized it’s funny.
You bring that that tournament up, especially that was in cameroon in 2015, and that was one of the qualifiers for the rio 2016 olympics um.
That was a really tough one for me just because you know you’re dealing with you know some of the most elite athletes and in countries that are, you know, you’re, not you’re, not in your country, people don’t care who you are now now, especially with kovid you’re Gon na be wearing a mask, so you know in some ways i might be able to hide behind that mask a little bit better.
I don’t want to hide behind what i do, i’m very proud of what i do with the athletes and the purpose that provides.
They always say the difference between training versus competition.
Is you know the referee? Because you know, if you don’t have somebody there, the referees and judges then you’re just practicing um.
For me, i think one of the biggest influences for me to get into officiating and stick with it and really continue with.
It was the fact that you know i didn’t feel like.
I was on the best end of the decisions as a a judge sport.
In figure skating, i never felt like those decisions were really fair and i, i am also the type of person who doesn’t want to necessarily complain about something without trying to do something to make it better.
So i realized after my first you know: competition judging or refereeing.
I think it was that it’s not that easy, it’s not so cut and dry and it’s a big.
It’S a big responsibility.
It’S a big job and it’s a very important one, and i i guess again the competitive nature that i have i wanted to.
You know experience and keep on.
You know helping and providing the expertise that i had as an athlete as an understanding the sport and really i do have a very good understanding, especially now very good understanding of the sport.
And how do i translate that back to the sport giving back, but also, maybe explaining that’s actually one of the next initiatives i have right now is within our province within canada as well, explaining to the coaches to the athletes.
What it is that we’re looking for, because i think that’s the biggest part of the game is, if you don’t understand the rules or what the judges are looking for, how are you going to win that, and that was my problem as an athlete, so that’s kind Of how it sort of continued to grow for me and that desire in me made me realize that i can make a much bigger difference.
Um through my work as an official than even as a coach, though i still coach cool.
So how long did it take? You from the time that you started refereeing and judging to work, your way up to being the first female referee and judge for the aiba in north america.
How long was that process for you? It was actually a really short process.
I think i’m very lucky.
I think that there’s some there’s some luck when it comes to there’s a huge amount of luck when it comes to, i would say the top of the top of anything.
I mean you look at you look at athletes.
That might be one thing, but if you look at like actors or people, even what i’m doing with my magician, like how many dancers are there that are 100 better than i am at dancing? Who haven’t gotten these incredible opportunities to become? You know professional um dancers, with a magician traveling around the world or going on tour.
How many officials are there like myself, like hundreds millions of officials like myself, who never would have been seen by the right people at the right moment and maybe be the right? Gender within the right time of the world to be able to step into these positions so um, i very very luckily got set up.
I started refereeing or officiating in and around the 2009 time.
I had to look at my book to verify those those dates and then by 2014 i was uh considered a three-star official because i took i was actually fast-tracked and upgraded into.
It was called the extraordinary um.
I think our rnj program through iab.
I forget the exact exact thing, but that they sent me to canada, sent me to cuba um, because i was just upgraded by officials who came into canada and said well, we kind of want to work with her and they realized.
There was a need for more women in the sport, because in 2012 that was actually the progression in 2012 was when the first uh women were included in the sport of boxing in the olympics.
So there became this need for officials in the olympic level um who were women, and that need was not there before.
Therefore, if i’d come in for years before, maybe i wouldn’t have been looked at or if i quit years before, then i definitely wouldn’t have been seen by the right people at the right time.
So it was a pretty quick transition.
So, by the time you did make it to that three-star level.
Did you find that the aiba were kind of were welcoming you with open arms at that point eager to show how progressive they were being, or was this still a bit of an uphill battle? In what has traditionally been a male dominated sport, i think it’s still an uphill battle, um, because it is still a male dominated sport.
However, interesting fact that we’re looking at right now in canada is that the majority of our athletes, who are meddling at the international level, are women.
So while it is predominantly a male sport and amateur, and while we still have many more male athletes in the sport or much more representation of male in the sport uh, we really honestly are doing much better and you know progressing quite far farther in the sport, Because of the woman that we have involved, so it’s still an uphill battle.
I was welcomed in i think, maybe for different reasons.
Um i i would say that i’m i’m very i’m very easy to get along with.
I think that’s just something that you know.
I i love people and i will find love for people, no matter who they are, what they say or how they interact and how they treat me even which can be to my detriment.
So there were a lot of uh.
I would say struggles that happened when i first got in especially in 2014.
Uh 2015 would be the lead up to the 2016 olympics.
There were some very public outcomes after the 2016 olympics uh with corruption and situations that i i faced firsthand um and it was.
It was definitely a lot of it had to do of the treatment that maybe i had had to do with being a female, and i would say that the people that maybe gave me the treatment would argue that you know they were exceptionally uh.
Exceptionally, welcoming to me, because i was female, but again that would be – it would just be in a different interpretation.
So it’s still quite a struggle because we’re not just dealing with canadians.
If i was just dealing with canadians that would be a different different story.
I’M very welcomed in canada, but when you’re dealing with other countries that are still not as progressive there’s still countries like cuba, who do not have an elite female program that would have any women, because you know quote unquote.
Their women are too beautiful to get into the sport and they wouldn’t want to see their.
You know, and there are women who are competing, but they’re not necessarily taken at the national.
They don’t have a national not yet they don’t have a national team for women.
Yet so that’s something that graham and i i’ve talked about a few times on this segment as well as on our friday night panels, is about normalizing the experience of seeing women in combative sports.
Now i know in 2018.
I believe you were the canadian delegate for the first aiba gender equality forum in uh, sofia, bulgaria, and i believe you also currently sit on boxing canada’s gender equity advisory group.
So what what is being done to facilitate this normalization – and you know – where do we? More importantly, what can we be doing better? I think i think this conversation in itself the fact that i’m having it with a male, the fact i mean i i would use the term you know preaching to the choir when we when i went to bulgaria, for example, this incredible concept with incredible speakers.
There was a gabriella mendoza and i’m probably pronouncing her name wrong, but she led this group for the whole weekend, but it was all woman they they had a meeting before with all the executives from the all the kind all the delegates from all the countries which Were made, how can you have an equality meeting and only and invite half the people? It doesn’t make sense to me yeah i mean, and that’s actually she put out a really great meme.
The other day where it just showed equality and equity is not all woman and one man, and it’s not you, know all men and one woman, it’s it’s neither of those and there’s a major difference between equity and equality, which i mean that would be a whole Other interview in itself – and i would say i’m an advocate, i would you know i’ve been labeled as a feminist and i actually wouldn’t necessarily.
I mean i think, that it’s a very strong label and i don’t necessarily don’t i don’t not identify as a feminist, but at the same time i really advocate, for you, know fair treatment.
I’Ve i’m so lucky that i believe that i’ve been given so many great opportunities in fair treatment, because i had blinders on and i had no idea that a lot of this stuff was going on or that even some of the things i endured were.
You know very unequal unequitable, you know experiences, but with the blinders on, i didn’t feel them or see them at the time.
And if i now with what i understand, what i see and what i acknowledge, if i don’t do something or take a step up and try to make sure that you know this treatment doesn’t continue or that more opportunities are not available.
I think that i would be considered complicit in the the issue that we have at hand and that’s part of why i’ve taken that step.
What can be done? We can talk more.
We can support more there’s still a major gap with you know.
They always say you know they being you know the media always says you know, there’s not enough need for there to be as much exposure for women.
You know, let’s use boxing, for example, you’re not going to see as many female fights you’re starting to see them.
Sometimes you know international women’s day we had you know all these women on one card.
It was incredible, it was great, as a kind of you know here we go here’s, what we’re doing, which is great, and i think there’s going to be more like that.
But the argument is that well, no one’s really watching the female boxing.
Well, if you’re not putting it out there for people to watch and you’re, not putting it out there, for you know young women – and you know girls, young girls or young boys to and – and you know, men to watch how do they know what they want to Watch you know so it’s very uh media bias like to say that you know who’s going to watch it.
You have to put it out there, so people can see it and you know it’s just better access to opportunity exactly exactly so.
What’S being done, uh sport, sport, canada, at least, is mandating a minimum 40 uh of leadership roles uh being allotted to women, and that is happening as of 2022, which is part of why and that’s next year, uh.
That’S part of why i’m sitting on this advisory group at this moment.
It’S not it’s not considered a committee yet, but we’re trying to work to ensure that we create the educative processes and we, you know, help get the woman who would be the proper people to put in these positions.
Not just you know filling spots, but getting people who are engaged involved and smart and educated to make helpful decisions, and you know a progressive sport.
So that’s part of what’s happening.
Um and it’s very it’s gon na happen very quickly and it has to be a mandate because unless you mandate it it doesn’t happen, and so that’s kind of the next step.
It’S going to be interesting to see what happens uh, but i’m i’m excited to be a part of that process.
Yeah! No, that sounds that sounds amazing.
I did have a list here of awards and honors and all kinds of stuff that i was going to get into.
I mean i know you know what they are.
I was going to tell other people what they were uh most recently, the inter the ioc.
The international olympic committee uh gave you uh the women in sport achievement uh for 2020.
Now i can’t i don’t have time to go in dollars because we are running a bit short on time.
So i wanted to congratulate you on that, but i did want to shift.
There was a couple other things i wanted to get into today, but you know we’re just we’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so what i would like to you to take some time with here and for our viewers is tell us about the fight to End cancer, because apparently you uh had sworn off sleep uh.
You needed something else.
To fill your time, you were getting bored the fight to end cancer in partnership with princess margaret hospital.
Tell us all about it.
Tell us how we can get involved.
Okay, so i know we’re pressed for time, so i i see you underneath.
No, no, you you take all the time you need for this.
This is important.
So much so you know fight2endcancer.
You know you’re going to see a lot of things and it’s a lot of scattered things, because what it represents is not my fight.
It represents the fight that we’re all faced with whether it’s as a supporter for somebody who’s going through cancer ourselves.
You know a survivor who’s going through cancer or somebody we’ve lost to cancer and, while covet has eclipsed every part of the world’s problems right now, it really has you know it’s a forefront of everybody’s.
You know discussion, fears and you know efforts to try to make sure we get through this.
It actually hasn’t stopped any of the problems, including cancer and cancer treatments, and we work very closely with the princess margaret cancer foundation, because their mandate is actually international they’re.
One of the one of the top five global researchers and uh basically provide treatment around the world, and that was right here in our backyard uh.
It was also the reason um.
It was the person who i was fighting for.
She was getting treatments there, they’re.
Absolutely incredible, but now because of kovid they’re struggling even more, and it makes me want to fight even harder.
However, we now just like everybody else – have to pivot the the fight that we were doing so we used to what the fight 10 cancer is.
In a nutshell, it represents a fight year round and essentially we would pick people from you know different.
You know you guys could fight, you guys could fight each other yeah.
I could fight you.
I can’t fight you, it’s a sanctioned fight.
So basically, we take people 10 people per year and they have no boxing experience one of the criteria and we get them to step into the ring box against each other, compete against each other in a sanctioned boxing match, while actually fighting for the same goal, which Is to raise funds for cancer research at the princess, margaret cancer foundation in support of the hospital and there’s some training involved there as well, though, it’s not just putting graham in the ring who’s, never boxed before and watch him flail against the ceo of some company.
Exactly no, we, the other mandate i have as an official as somebody who wants to protect people within the sport of boxing, is to ensure that it’s a safe sport and that we represent boxing and we highlight – and we showcase boxing as a sport, that it really Is because, realistically in amateur the we don’t look at the injuries inside the ring the same as maybe a pro fight would be looking for our goal is not knockouts, it’s points driven um.
So it’s not it’s not the same.
So education is part of what we do with the fight 10 cancer as well.
So we want to educate the people involved, the people watching, while still the outcome being that we raise the most funds.
We can to ensure that cancer is ended in our lifetime, and that is really what our vision our goal and our mission comes down to and we are uh we’ve already raised.
One point: we’ve donated 1.
5 million to the princess margaret it’s slowed down because of kovid.
Thanks and uh, we are now looking at pivoting and you know the next strategy that we have to try to deal with these times, because it’s really hard to ask people for money when they don’t really have money.
I mean even us we’re we’re relying on government support.
You know you don’t pay the bills by an empty gym, you don’t pay the bills, you know through empty stores and that’s the reality we’re all facing right now.
So how do you keep fighting for something? That’S incredibly important to not just me, but the future of what is facing our community and you know i’ll be long gone, but this fight, hopefully, will still be fighting.
You know how do you keep that going at a time right now, where it’s so critical and then you know they’re onward, so you will get back to the fight for sure by hopefully next year and we have a roster of fighters waiting to compete.
But in the meantime, we’ve lost weight, graham yeah, not yet you’ve got time to train yeah, so that might be one of those fights you might have to one of those thousand fights you might have to stop a little early, well i’ll uh i’ll keep my eye On it – and i mean as long as you make it into the ring, then you’ve done your part, because all of the hard work as a fighter for fighting cancer is done before your fight.
Just like uh, i i’m not gon na i’m gon na massacre uh.
Muhammad ali’s quote, but you know the essence is that the majority of all of the fight is completed before you actually step into the ring, and that is exactly how it is for the fight to end cancer.
You know all the fighters, all the sponsors, the supporters they’re all raising funds leading up to that fight and then the fight is just a celebration.
So we would never let anyone get hurt during that uh process um.
But now what we’re doing is offering uh we’re.
Just working on it right now, so if you go to our site, you’re, not gon na see this yet um, but hopefully we’ll be able to launch it by, i would say, may end of may the ftech shop.
So you can actually wear your support now and by wearing a t-shirt or wearing a face mask, or you know, putting on a pair of gloves that, actually, you know say to feed, is not an option, which is our motto: um you’re supporting the fighttan cancer you’re.
Still continuing to drive funds and support and just awareness to the cause and keeping the fight alive, which is right now, just the same as what all the businesses are trying to do is stay alive.
We want to try to keep the fight going so that the people who are still fighting for their lives have something to you know, relax they can they can focus on themselves because we’re still fighting for them? Okay, so do you often definitely let us know once the uh was the products go, live uh and we can definitely we’ll let our viewership know once they are live and we’ll be able to direct them to the uh website.
I’M sure, if you’re watching at home right now, you can see just below jennifer there.
Com is the website.
Please go check it out uh.
How can people get involved, though? Uh is sponsorship.
Volunteers is there? What can they be doing before the merch goes live? What can we be doing right now? We have uh.
If you do go to our website.
You know you’ll see the donate donation portion, we’re aware that donations are really tough right now, but even two dollars.
We had a young girl who brought in her coins from her.
You know, uh, it was her piggy bank, she just emptied her piggy bank, it was pennies.
I don’t even think we use pennies anymore, but you know what every penny counts, and i know that that sounds.
It sounds so like um, commercial, you know every penny or pennies count.
They do they.
I’Ve watched those pennies.
Those young kids who are doing lemonade stands during covid them, bringing those those funds to us.
That is still something, and it’s so so um so much gratitude from the hospital and from the doctors.
We still work very closely with the doctors and we hear from them.
You know just so grateful that we’re still fighting and those funds, they add up every penny.
Every penny adds up and that’s how we’ve gotten we didn’t get to 1.
5 million by you know large huge lump sum donations.
We got to them by five dollars: 20.
20 cents here and there so the donation you can get involved with, and then we are definitely looking for sponsors.
So if you’re, amazon or if you’re those companies that are doing really well right, now work those work, the the community into your your mandate work the community and it’s not good enough to say we support the community.
We have to actually take action and that’s what my goal as a business as an entrepreneur who has decided that, even while i struggle to pay the rent, i will still make sure if there’s any money coming in certain money goes into that fund.
That’S our future, and you know i might not be there to see the outcome of it.
I really hope that we can end cancer in our lifetime.
However, you know we will end cancer in our lifetimes if we all fight for the same goal, absolutely brilliant.
Now, just before we sign off here uh i do have one.
You know one last question for you: we like to throw these ones around, just to see, throw a bit of a curveball here, so we asked uh.
No, no! So we we asked a big mike from knuckle up with mike four likes this question a lot as – and we haven’t had a referee judge way on way in on this one you’re, obviously better acquainted with the queensberry rules than anyone else we’ve talked to here.
If you could propose one rule change in in boxing, what would you see? What would you like to see now? I know big mike, he is forever and this is he likes to do this from again the comfort of his couch.
He he does not like the standing eight count and he also wants to see four ounce gloves on everyone’s hands, but they doesn’t hear when people say that’s just.
I know your knuckle guys we’re going bare knuckles.
If you’d, let him he would.
If you’d, let him he would but it’d be nothing but broken knuckles jump into the ring with me first and then we’ll see if he still wants to go bare knuckle.
I would pay money to see that if we can set that up for the uh the fight to end cancer, i would definitely pay good money to see that.
But what rule change would you like to see happen in boxing, so in amateur boxing the sandy eight count.
I will always argue to keep that there.
The purpose of the standing account is to in amateur boxing support that athlete to ensure that we can.
You know ensure certain, you know certain things like safety before you get knocked out, so that is the purpose of standing account.
I will stand by that 100 and yes, while it gets misused a lot because new referees or even experienced referees may misinterpret, you know a stumble for an eight count.
I would still rather stop a thousand by accident than one too late that ends up being a death, or you know a severe injury so and that comes from being a very you know, severely injured athlete, so that one i won’t uh.
I won’t agree with him on, but nobody has yet.
Okay, that’s good to hear nobody has yet, but but he keeps gunning for it yeah.
He does tell him to come.
Tell him to come.
Have a talk with me and i’ll give him a couple standing accounts and he’ll we’ll see how he feels about them um, so we’re bringing our cameras for that.
I’Ve been giving a lot of thought to the perfect perfect.
I love it.
Um i’ve, given a lot of thought to what it is, that’s gon na make, because i believe the biggest problem in amateur sport is judging.
I think i feel i really do believe that and i believe the biggest problem in amateur boxing – and this is coming from a judge – is the construct of uh what we’ve created with judging now.