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Caroline Dubois pretended to be ‘Colin’ and made the boys cry in the ring;  now she wants Olympic gold in Tokyo to eclipse big brother Daniel and honor Grenfell Tower victim


Caroline Dubois vividly remembers the moment her own father told her that she had to pretend to be a boy to pursue her boxing dream.

At only nine years old, the youngster wanted to follow in the footsteps of his big brother Daniel at the Repton Boxing Club and had to keep his sex a secret.

Dubois wants to carry on his family’s proud boxing tradition at the Tokyo Olympics
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She told the BBC: “During the drive to the gym, I remember my dad saying to me ‘You know, you can’t tell them you’re a girl.’

“I thought it was a joke! I went to the gym and saw it was all boys and I remember the coach he walked up to me and said ‘Oh , so you are Daniel’s brother? ‘

“He asked me my name, and at first I said Caroline, but I said it so quietly that he didn’t hear me. The first name I could think of was Colin.

“So he said ‘Alright Colin, get in the ring.’ I wasn’t scared at all; I started swinging against this kid, broke his nose, made him cry.

Caroline Dubois pretended to be ‘Colin’ and made the boys cry in the ring;  now she wants Olympic gold in Tokyo to eclipse big brother Daniel and honor Grenfell Tower victim
Big brother Daniel is the interim WBA heavyweight champion, but has never won gold at the Olympics
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Now 20, the lightweight has serious ambitions of winning a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Caroline is younger than Daniel, who holds the interim WBA heavyweight title, qualifying for the Games the same night he returns to action against Bogdan Dinu.

Young Dubois won a silver medal in the final of the European Olympic boxing qualifying tournament in June, losing a split decision to Ireland’s Kellie Harrington.

Inspired by Sugar Ray Leonard and the late Marvin Hagler, it was the 2012 Olympics that sparked Dubois’ interest in women’s boxing as she saw Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields light up the ring.

Caroline Dubois pretended to be ‘Colin’ and made the boys cry in the ring;  now she wants Olympic gold in Tokyo to eclipse big brother Daniel and honor Grenfell Tower victim
Claressa Shields has achieved all there is to accomplish in women’s boxing as an amateur and professional
Stephanie Trapp / SHOWTIME

As one of the 11 children, Caroline certainly had no pressure to step into the ring. Besides Daniel, brothers Prince and Solomon are involved in the sport and Caroline is the only woman in four to box.

Yet her father was determined to help her break down the gender barriers that previously barred female boxers from winning in the sport.

“I didn’t really notice or care what other people were saying, but I know it definitely would have affected my dad,” she told ESPN.

“Back then a lot of places would have said they didn’t want me because I’m a girl and that would have affected him and maybe someone else would have said, ‘Hit that on the head, I “I have two sons in boxing, so let me stay with them and focus on them, they are going to make more money out of it because there was no Olympics, nothing really.

Caroline Dubois pretended to be ‘Colin’ and made the boys cry in the ring;  now she wants Olympic gold in Tokyo to eclipse big brother Daniel and honor Grenfell Tower victim
Old friends turned into enemies, Groves and DeGale came from Dale Youth as Dubois

After succeeding at Repton, Dubois moved to Dale Youth, the same gym that produced James DeGale and George Groves, and was taken in by cornerman Tony Disson.

Yet on June 14, 2017, Disson was among 72 people who tragically lost their lives when a fire broke out on the fourth floor of the Grenfell Tower. Dale Youth, which was on the ground floor, was also destroyed.

“I remember he was in my corner and he always told me that I was going to go to the Olympics and that there wasn’t even an Olympics for girls,” she added. “So I didn’t really understand what he was talking about, but he also said that I was going to go to the Olympics and he was going to bet on it.

“It’s crazy to think about what happened, but I’m just thankful that there are people like this in my life who have supported me and inspired me to do things. There wouldn’t have been an Olympics until he said so.

Caroline Dubois pretended to be ‘Colin’ and made the boys cry in the ring;  now she wants Olympic gold in Tokyo to eclipse big brother Daniel and honor Grenfell Tower victim
The Grenfell Tower tragedy of June 2017 claimed the lives of 72 people and destroyed the original Dale Youth club
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Unlike Daniel, who bypassed the amateur game to pursue professional world titles, Caroline is committed to honoring Disson’s memory and chasing gold this summer in Tokyo.

Although the road to the Olympics has not been easy, the 20-year-old is adamant she can beat anyone in the world when she gives her best, like during her qualification last month against a Finnish phenomenon in France.

She told the BBC: “I guess I was the underdog because I had this big fight against Mira Potkonen – who was the number one seed in the tournament.

“She hadn’t been beaten in Europe for about four or five years. I was afraid to go there and go to bed, not to play as well as I could and live with that regret for the rest of my life.

Caroline Dubois pretended to be ‘Colin’ and made the boys cry in the ring;  now she wants Olympic gold in Tokyo to eclipse big brother Daniel and honor Grenfell Tower victim
Dubois, 20, is determined to win the top prize this summer
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“But I knew if I lost to this girl, I wouldn’t go to the Olympics! So I said ‘I’m not losing to you, not at all.’

“If I get in the ring and play, I’ll beat anyone.”

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