One of the GB team fighters sat in front of her with her newborn baby and watched the inspiring women in London 2012. One had a close-up view as a training partner. Another wanted to follow in Kelly Holmes’ footsteps until she saw boxing emerge as an option.
The generation led by gold medalists Katie Taylor, Nicola Adams and Claressa Shields in 2012 were the first to introduce women’s boxing to the Olympics after it was finally cleared.
Their influence burns to this day and has, in different ways, inspired the four women included in Team GB’s Tokyo 2020 boxing squad who will attempt to emulate their achievements.
Caroline Dubois, Karriss Artingstall, Charley Davison and Lauren Price each remember London 2012 as a defining moment and now look at it with marveled eyes.
“I remember it was happening,” says Dubois who was only 11 at the time but was already interested in boxing because of his big brother Daniel, now a professional heavyweight contender.
London 2012 was the first indication that Dubois could truly follow his brother’s career path.
“It was a big buzz because it was the first time that boxing for girls was allowed,” she told Sky Sports. “I was careful. I looked at the level, the level. The crowd and the atmosphere were incredible.
“They paved the way. They put obstacles so that we could get through. There would be no Olympics without them, so we have to give them respect and credit.
“I remember seeing Nicola Adams, Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields heading for the ring.”
A fight particularly marked the young Dubois. When Taylor of Ireland beat Natasha Jonas of Team GB in the lightweight quarterfinals, it was the de facto No.1 fight of the tournament. The noise generated inside the arena broke decibel records.
“I remember Katie boxing Natasha and the crowd was amazing,” Dubois says now with genuine awe.
“I said, ‘I want to do this’. And now I’m here.”
Karriss Artingstall was 17 years old, his goal being to join the British Army at the time.
“I watched a few Nicola Adams fights,” she said, but boxing, she thought at the time, was not a long-term option.
The influence of London 2012 seeped slowly for Artingstall who rediscovered boxing in the military and now finds doors opened by Taylor, Adams and co.
Charley Davison was a training partner for Adams in preparation for the Games nine years ago.
“I was a lot younger so I had the wow factor of being in this big gym where everyone was really good,” Davison told Sky Sports. “It made me vibrate, made me push harder, work harder.”
Her inspiring story included a seven-year hiatus from boxing during which she had three children. Her oldest child was in her arms as she watched her former training partner Adams win a gold medal and become a national hero.
“I wish I could have been there,” said Davison, then 18. “I got a buzz when the girls walked into the ring.
“I wondered if I could do it. I’ve always had these thoughts – could I go back? Would it be difficult? Can I get help?
Davison’s dream as a mother of becoming an Olympian might not have come true without the resounding success of the inaugural women’s boxing tournament in London 2012.
“They paved the way for us,” she says. “After these Games, even more girls will want to join the sport and it’s great. Girls can be as good as men, we are at the same level. If there are girls who want to play sports but think that ‘they can “it is possible!
“I always had the dream but now it’s a reality. I’m pinching myself.”
Lauren Price briefly wanted to emulate middle distance athlete Kelly Holmes.
“Then in London 2012, I saw Nicola Adams in the ring. It inspired me to follow in their footsteps,” she told Sky Sports. “I didn’t know what sport I would do but I just wanted to go to the Olympics.”
Price had many sporting options even after seeing boxing emerge at the age of 17. She has won 52 caps as a footballer for Wales and won kickboxing world titles.
But boxing has found a way to his heart.
“It was huge to give a platform to women’s boxing,” she says of the first Olympic exhibition. “We might not be that strong, but we’re just as technical as the guys.
“Look at Katie Taylor – she carried on and is breaking everything as a pro. She’s amazing.
“London 2012 opened people’s eyes, especially where I’m from in Wales where we had never heard of women’s boxing.
“When people watch the Olympics again, they will see how much women’s boxing has improved. It will shock a lot of people.”