Justine's Blog

If you want to fly, 
Give up everything that weighs you down

Wearing the GOLD!

5th March 2023

The story of my gold medal started when I was 19 and I moved to a country town 650km away from my home in Adelaide. I was running away from my life. I knew I needed to get out, to make a change in my life and a job opportunity came up for me in Port Lincoln. I jumped at the chance and begged the company I worked for, to send me. I had never heard of this rural, fishing town before but I needed to make a change in my life and I saw this as my way out.

I got the job in Port Lincoln and made the move, with my dog, to a place I didn’t know anyone. Keeping active was always something I did however I had always wanted to try Kickboxing. Did a small little country town have something as random as kickboxing back in 1996? Well to my surprise it did, and I went along and was hooked. After three years of kickboxing, learning new skills, making new friends and meeting the love of my life, the Muai Thai gym that I had been attending shut down. Instead of being gutted I simply followed a few of the other students to Boxing classes run by coach Peter Williams. It was here that I continued to go to trainings on and off for years. It was the one thing in my life that I could stop, have a break to try something else and go back to with no questions asked and fit back in, like part of the family. I often think that because I had four brothers, I was more comfortable around the males than with females, I knew how to relate to them. As children we used to play games in the hallway after dinner most nights where it was two on two, and the aim was to get your team to the other side using whatever means possible. Skills like agility, toughness and the ability to not break in a tickle fight were all needed to get to the other side. I can never remember anyone winning as I think it was always stopped by our father when someone ended up crying due to a knee to the head or being jumped on. As we got older, we would spiderman the door frames and made-up different competitions and challenges. We were all competitive and needed to outdo each other, no matter the activity.

As I got older, my husband Phil and I bought a home, got married and had two beautiful babies. I was back and forth to boxing over the year’s however when my son Tyson was around 10, he wanted to try boxing. This kick started my boxing training again. It was then that I remembered what it was like to be fit and healthy and do the things I truly enjoyed. As my children were older I felt I could commit more time to myself, doing the things I wanted to.

After a few years I started to secretly wonder if all this training I had done over the years could equate to me having a boxing match, a proper fight in the ring. Could I do it? Is it possible? The closer to forty I got, I started to make it a dream, in my mind. I kept the dream to myself and yet I also kept talking myself out of it. What would people say? A mother of two couldn’t fight in the ring! What would my kids think? What would my family say? I don’t look like a boxer. Self-doubt and worry flooded my mind, not only when thinking about my limits, but also in my day to day.

Turning forty came and went but the dream of having just one fight was still with me. Then one day at training my coach Scotty said something about a competition for “older” people, at the Australian Masters Games. It was going to be that year, 2019, in Adelaide and a few people from the gym were going to enter and that I should to. He had more faith in me than I did!!

To enter you had to be 35 or older and in the sport of boxing there were quite a few different categories; age, number of previous fights, and weight category of a 3 kg difference. I had to decide ahead of time what I wanted to do. There were other things that were involved in the preparation for a competition like this. Deciding what weight I wanted to fight at? Who was I going to spar (practice fighting in the ring without getting injured). There was a medical (from the Doctors that included blood tests), purchasing specific boxing shorts and singlet in red and blue, training and fitness schedules, getting time off from my wedding and events business. It seemed like the list kept getting bigger and bigger, but I had made a commitment to myself. I said that I am not getting any younger and if I was going to do this, this was the year, as I was going to turn 42 before the fight. It was now or never!!

The decision was made, I was going to throw everything I had at it, not only competing in my first fight but also WINNING my first fight. I decided to make it the best experience I could and have fun along the way. I loved the training and pushing my body to do extraordinary things. I had to lose a minimum of three kilograms and up to a maximum of six kilograms to fit into the weight category of 54-57kg. Losing a few kilograms isn’t the challenge, it is keeping enough muscle and stamina while being at a lighter weight. I found myself a nutritionist and decided to eat mostly vegan, which was another skill set I needed to explore along the way. I started fight camp which involved 5.30am trainings three mornings a week along with extra evening trainings, running, swimming and yoga. Six days of the week I trained twice a day with a recovery walk on the seventh day. During this time I was also running my own successful and busy, retail and hire business while also caring for my two teenagers. My husband worked away quite a lot, so fitting in training was a challenge in itself.

One day during my training my food coach Anthea, suggested I get a professional photo shoot taken, so I could remember the whole experience. I justified the photoshoot as a business opportunity to get photos that I could eventually use to promote my new personal training business. A professional photo shoot was so foreign to me, with the fake tan, hair and makeup. Somehow over the years I had refused to let people take my photo. Looking back, I think it was when I had my daughter, I had gained quite a large amount of weight and after her traumatic birth I lost all love for myself. The self-doubt and lack of self-confidence was a battle that I have had to do some serious work on over the years and my fight brought a lot of this to the surface. Having my professional photos taken allowed me the chance to look at myself in a different way.

It was the same year, 2019, that I started a personal development program with Karen Brook called Thinking into Results. It was through studying myself and putting myself first with this big goal that I made massive changes in my life. My confidence started growing, I was achieving things at work and home, I was becoming a better mother and person, less anger and confusion. I was now in control of me and who I wanted to become going forward. I learnt about visualising and as part of my fight training, I started to incorporate imagining myself in the ring, what combos I could use and the referee holding my arm up at the end of the fight signalling that I won.

The time came for me to go to Adelaide and enter the competition. It was exciting and the atmosphere was amazing. I loved watching all the fighters get ready, line up for weigh ins and do their prep before they entered the ring. I was in awe of the other entrants and the ages of some of them. The whole event was a welcoming and inclusive environment and it put me at ease straight away. I felt like I belonged, and I was one of them. Wearing a lanyard around my neck that said BOXER on it felt great and signified I was now an athlete. These were small things but to me they were huge. Maybe because it was my first time and these were all new experiences but I felt something, I felt proud of what I had achieved just to get there.

For those that don’t know anything about boxing, there are some rules that you need to follow and one of them is weight. The night before I was going to fight, I weighed myself on the official scales to see where I was, and I was teetering on not making weight. I was too light! This would have been a disaster if I weighed in the following morning underweight, as I would have been disqualified. So, the solution was simple!! Eat an amazing big breakfast and be fuelled up for the day, now that was a win-win as calorie counting was not my favourite thing to do.

The second dilemma I had with my fight was that I was unopposed. This meant there was no other female in Australia registered in my division of 40-45 years, 0-5 fights, in 54kg to 57kg category. It was looking like I wouldn’t fight. I was going to be automatically awarded a gold medal as I won by default. I was shattered! I was here to fight; I had trained hard for over 6 months and didn’t want to go out like that. Once we learnt that I was unopposed my coach approached the fighter in the weight division above me as she was unopposed too. Both coaches agreed and we were going to fight each other in a special match. This was going to mean the winner gets the gold and it will go on our record.

The night before the fight I learnt of my opponent’s name so I did what anyone else would have done and I studied her. Good old Google let me know she was a trainer on the Biggest Loser in Asia and is friends with the trainers from the Australian Biggest Loser. If I wasn’t nervous before I sure was then. I had to use all the self-image and confidence lessons I had learnt, to tell myself that I have just as much chance as her to win and that I wasn’t here to come second. She was just another opponent, and this was just going to be a hard sparing session. I had come too far to back out now.

So it’s go time, we are in the room, the ring is in the corner with lights, spectators, judges, coaches and fighters. I am nervous, scared, excited, all rolled into one, but I am focused. I am here with a job to do, and I am going to win. One of my fears along the way, was what would people say about me fighting, how would they judge me? I refused to have a fight in my hometown because too many people knew me, and I didn’t want them to see me fight in case I failed. In Adelaide I had a few select family, friends and fellow gym supporters and I was ok with that.

There was a split second during my warmup where thoughts popped into my head “what are you doing? Your crazy! You can’t do this, back out NOW” but I simply told myself to shut up, I know what I want, and I am going to do it, I am a winner, and it is done. Within the next few minutes I was up in that ring. Is now the time to tell you I didn’t like being the centre of attention? I hated being in the spotlight just as much as I hated my photo being taken. I refused to have a long table at our wedding because I didn’t want to be up the front, for people to see me. Stepping into that ring with all eyes on me was testing me. It was part of it and if I wanted to fight, I had to move past it. Part of my preparation was visualising myself in the ring with all these people watching me. Well, it must have worked because as soon as I stepped into the ring, I thought about nothing other that what I was here to do. The three rounds that followed were tough, bloody and exhilarating! I don’t remember seeing any other fights over the three days that were as bloody as ours.

My visualisations of the referee holding up my hand after they announced the winner came true. It was an event in my life that has helped to shape me and prove to myself that with dedication and perseverance anything is possible. I am capable, I am worthy, and I am a human just like you. I am not special, just focused and dedicated.

The following morning, after my fight, I was asked to do a radio interview, man was I nervous! I had never done anything like that before in my life and I was scared. I think I was more scared of the radio interview than the actual fight. At least I was prepared for the fight. I sat in my car in the carpark of the motel and took the call with Emma from the radio station. She asked me the questions and we got through it. Even to this day I have no idea what I said but it was part of the story of me getting more comfortable with myself and putting myself out there, to share my story with others.

Once I got back to Port Lincoln the local television station wanted to come to the gym to do an interview for the local news. Here we go again!! Another stretching moment!! This time the fight was over, I was still on a high and it was just that little bit easier. I was in my element at the gym hitting the bags. I told the interviewer my story of how I wanted to let people know, to have a dream and go for it, and age isn’t a barrier. If you want to do something, then do it! What resulted from that interview was a few months later a lady came up to me in the gym and said that I was the reason she came to training, that I inspired her. Boy, was I shocked!! Who would have thought that someone like me could be an inspiration to someone else. I was so happy I could help someone else improve their life through exercise.

I started to learn that all these steps and opportunities were coming my way to teach me new things, for my personal growth and development. The photoshoot was scary and releasing them into the public eye was probably even scarier. It still took me a long time to post any photos of me online. The thoughts had come back again, what would people think? How will I be judged? But I had to push that aside and say no, this is me and my story and maybe, just maybe it may inspire someone else.

Our journey is always going to be full of challenges and tough decisions but it’s HOW we tell ourselves we can get past them that counts. We can choose the positive self-talk or we can choose the negative self-talk. I know what’s going to get me to where I want to go. Choose wisely

Go out and live your best life and do the things you dream of doing.

X Justine

Book a strategy call with Justine today