Sameenah Toussaint was a 10-year-old hiding behind heavy bags as women’s boxing made its debut at the London Olympics, sweeping Nicola Adams to her historic first gold medal.
Around the same time, Toussaint’s father dragged her kicking and screaming to the local gym, where her own attempt to emulate Adams would get off to the worst possible start.
The 19-year-old, who is part of a six-man England women’s boxing team for the games, told the PA news agency: ‘My dad wanted me to learn defense but I spent all my time huddled in the corner and behind bags hide .
“I was the only girl in the gym and it was really intimidating. When I started sparring, the guys were either too easy on me or were trying to hit me on purpose.”
Toussaint, who was born in Watford, felt she had no choice but to move on and there was no turning back after winning her first junior title two years later at the age of 12.
“When I won my first schoolgirl title, that was a big turning point,” she said. “I really started enjoying it and believing in myself and believing that I could rise to great things.
“I was 15 when the last Commonwealth Games were played and I watched all boxing. If you had told me that I would be here today, I would have believed you because I started to gain a lot of confidence.”
Toussaint competes at featherweight, meaning she could face two-time Commonwealth silver medalist Michaela Walsh, who memorably pushed Adams to a split decision in Glasgow 2014.
For Toussaint it is a privilege to now be part of a program that produced the first generation of female boxers like Adams and Ireland’s Olympic champion Katie Taylor who went on to pursue lucrative professional careers.
“Nicola and Katie have been really inspirational and what they have done has ensured that girls can now go to boxing gyms and not feel intimidated like me,” Toussaint added.
“It’s amazing to think I’m in the same program as them now, but I believe in myself and after the Commonwealth Games I will be fully focused on following them by qualifying for the 2028 Olympics in Paris and Los Angeles qualify.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/nicola-adams-england-birmingham-adams-katie-taylor-b2130718.html Sameenah Toussaint: From hiding behind bags to boxing at the Commonwealth Games