Georgia O’Connor is only 21 and hasn’t fought professionally yet, but she already speaks forcefully about living “every day like the last” and chasing her dreams.
She was a fantastic amateur boxer, but now, before her professional debut, it’s the unlikely future of women’s boxing as her path until that point has been a roller coaster that has threatened to derail.
First of all, his experience with the GB team, designed to take him to Olympic glory, turned sour. More recently, a severe blood clot on his lungs has called into question more than his boxing future.
O’Connor certainly didn’t come from a boxing household, and she didn’t have the childhood of a typical boxer – her tiny hamlet in County Durham is teeming with farm animals and she lived briefly in France when she was a child.
“My dad put a pair of gloves on me before I could walk,” she told Sky Sports.
“He played silly games with me – like peek-a-boo where I had to try and hit him – I think that’s why my reactions are so good now!
“He always wanted me to be able to take care of myself. He never wanted me to be a superstar, my family isn’t like that. He just wanted me to stand up for myself because the world is not one. a pleasant place.”
O’Connor tried his hand at martial arts, MMA and boxing as a child: “I was three times national taekwondo champion, unbeaten in kickboxing, but my heart has always been for boxing.”
She won five amateur national titles, silver and bronze medals at the European Youth Championships before a decisive year in 2017 which earned her Commonwealth Youth Gold and then World Youth Silver.
O’Connor won his gold medal in the Bahamas: “It was surreal. It was a dream. I had never seen it except on TV, how clear the water is. Way of life different.
“I have traveled a lot but it was fantastic.
“When I need to be serious, I can be very serious.”
She won silver in India: “I loved the culture and seeing the religions. I loved how religiously harmonized it was – the same street would have a mosque, a synagogue, a church. If they can do it, why can’t we? There is a lot that we can learn. “
A bomb had only recently been dropped in the same place where O’Connor was staying for the Games: “The level of security was the same as in Iraq. It was strange. We had one guard per person, each wearing an AK47. like in an action movie. “
Her amateur credentials made her an intriguing proposition for the 2020 Olympics, but things didn’t go as planned when O’Connor moved to Team GB’s Sheffield base.
She says: “I am more than grateful to have traveled the world and lived the dream. Every boxer dreams of wearing their tracksuit.
“I said to myself: ‘In 2020 I will be too young, do I want to wait until 2024 for the Olympics?’
“I could gain experience as a professional and inspire others.
“I wasn’t completely happy so I didn’t reach my full potential. It made me a mature and well-rounded person.”
Instead, the Tokyo Games took place in 2021 with Lauren Price and Karriss Artingstall winning medals while Caroline Dubois also shone.
It must have been hard to watch from home?
“I’m at peace with what happened,” said O’Connor.
Clearly O’Connor is not your stereotypical boxer.
She is currently a law student and in her spare time she plays the guitar and sings.
“My idea of fun is reading a book in bed,” she says. “I have never drunk alcohol.
“When I have gained a few books and inspired a generation, then I can have fun.
“This is the sacrifice I am making.”
His illness was a much bigger problem to overcome.
“For me to get over that, to still be there, to be healthy? I thank God everyday for the rest of my life,” O’Connor said.
“I realized that I have a life, I want to live it to the fullest and not wait for opportunities that might not present themselves, hence the Olympics.
“It is important to live each day as the last.”
O’Connor has serious bravery and it will come in handy in his new profession.
“I’ve always had a big heart. I see homeless people on the streets and I care too much, if at all,” she says.
“People might say it’s wrong because you have to be heartless to be a boxer.
“But that’s not true. It takes a huge heart to fight.”
So when O’Connor first steps in the ring, what to expect?
“I like to spare my nose, so I try to stay tactical! I’m quick, pretty sharp, a lot of people in the amateurs have said I have exceptional footwork. But I also like to fight.
“People should follow me because I don’t have a big head. My main goal is to inspire future generations. To be a woman in sport, it’s amazing to have the opportunity to show that there is nothing you cannot do.
“It’s important that people say, ‘She can fight, period.
“If a child looks at me and takes action and says ‘I can do this’ then my life is worth living.”
Sky Sports Boxe schedule
October 16 – Top Rank in San Diego
Emanuel Navarette vs. Joet Gonzalez – WBO featherweight title
October 16 – BOXXER in Newcastle
Savannah Marshall vs Lolita Muzeya – WBO Middleweight Title
Hughie Fury vs. Christian Hammer
Chris Eubank Jr vs. Wanik Awidjan
October 24 – Top Rank in Atlanta
Shakur Stevenson vs. Jamel Herring – WBO Super Featherweight Title
October 31 – Best ranking in New York
José Zepeda vs. José Vargas
November 6 – Best ranking in Las Vegas
Mikaela Mayer vs Maiva Hamadouche – IBF and WBO Super Feather Titles
November 6 – BOXXER in Liverpool
November 20 – BOXXER in London
Richard Riakporhe vs. Olanrewaju Durodola
Professional debut of Caroline Dubois
December 11 – Best ranking in Las Vegas
Vassili Lomachenko vs. Richard Commey
December 18 – Best ranking in Glasgow
Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall – undisputed welterweight title