With sights set on Tokyo 2020, Claudia trains with the Great Britain boxing program while studying for a D.Phil in Plant Sciences at Magdalen College. Back in the UK after medaling at the International Silesian Women’s Championship in Poland, Claudia now is readying for the GB Championship title fight, held in two weeks’ time. Blue Bird editor Jack Paget caught up with her before she heads off to find out more of her story.
BB: Claudia, how did you get into Boxing?
I used to play lacrosse for England, and at the time I wanted to improve my footwork. I started boxing at OUABC – at the time there weren’t many women. That’s what initially spurred me on, and it was fantastic to be part of the development in women’s boxing at Oxford University.
BB: What was your experience of the GB talent scouting campaign? Now that you’re a firm part of it, how do you find the balance of training with life at Oxford?
The #DiscoverYourGold campaign was a long process – over 8 months of trials – but I was excited to get called back at every stage. The #DiscoverYourFight campaign was for boxing, judo and taikwando; I’m delighted to have stayed with the sport that I love. Training with GB is a lot of hard work, so unless you love the sport you won’t be able to give it enough to succeed.
Balancing training and doing a D.Phil. isn’t easy, but both are very worthwhile – Oxford has been incredibly helpful in ensuring I’m able to manage both, without compromising either.
BB: What are your aspirations for the year ahead?
Next year’s a big one for women’s boxing – there’s the European Championships, World Championships, and the World University Championships. On a personal level, I have my heart set on winning the World University Championships, as it’s a competition combining two things I feel passionately about: sports and education.
BB: If you had the opportunity to dive into any new sport, which would it be and why?
I’d really like to get a sub-20 minute Park Run 5k. That’s not really a new sport… but I do love Park Run and think it’s super and inclusive. So, if anyone was looking to try it out there’s a course in Summertown.
BB: Boxing is a sport that has historically been considered fairly male dominated. With huge strength in the Oxford women’s team and beyond, have you seen a shift in this?
Having been at Oxford for both my undergrad and D.Phil., I’ve witnessed and been part of the significant shift in boxing at OUABC. To go from 5 to 50 women training regularly, an annual team Varsity Match, and a phenomenal number of BUCS medals, we’re doing pretty well in terms of opportunities to compete.
We’re not yet at a point where we can admire our work though. Some of the attitudes towards women in boxing still need to change though – ring girls, preferentially training men or giving them better facilities, and the culture and language used in the sport are all things that mean the battle is still on-going.
One of the things likely to change quite soon is that the vast majority of coaches are still male – as more women filter through the sport and retire, that should change.
At an international level, GB boxing is at the forefront of most countries. In the past 6 months, Team GB has taken on a significant influx of new female boxing talent, to impress at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
BB: A huge part of This Girl Can Oxbridge is encouraging more women to take up sport. What would you say to any females considering getting involved with OUABC or other sports at Oxford?
This Girl Can has been a fantastic campaign from the outset. Sports at Oxford is incredibly important for mental and physical wellbeing, and getting through university. Now is the best time to get into sport, as the University has them all set out for you, all close by, and all at much better value than you will find once you leave!
I remember turning up to OUABC training sessions in my first term and frequently being the only girl there. Just remember if you want to try a new sport, just because you can’t see anyone like you doing it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
BB: Final Three
- Most valuable lesson you’ve learnt? As with anything in life, enjoy every second – if you don’t enjoy it, it’s not worth doing.
- Hardest session you’ve done? Running up Mount Tiede on OUABC training camp in Tenerife – it’s January, just after Christmas, -2o, the wind comes whistling into your ears, and you only run uphill.
- Best sporting moment? Medaling at my first international tournament for GB, and getting to be the flag bearer at the opening ceremony. My dog (and parents) came to watch too. That was pretty special.