|Name:||Natasa Jamnik- Sousa|
|Role:||Boxer for FTEC 2016|
|Organisation:||Fight to End Cancer / Kingsway Boxing Club|
Natasa will be one of the two female fighters in this years Fight to End Cancer Event held in Toronto, Canada on June 4th 2016.
Fight to End Cancer is a charity founded by Boxing Coach and International Referee Jennifer Huggins. Each year, the event features a new group of white-collar men and women with no prior boxing experience, taking their new found skills to the ring. The aim of the event is to raise as much money as possible for Princess Margaret Urgent Cancer Priorities Fund at the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.
Natasa is one of those fighters who will be stepping into the ring for the first time and has trained tirelessly over the last few months to get herself fit and learn how to become a boxer.
We were lucky enough to speak with Natasa about her reasons for wanting to take on such a challenge and how working with Jennifer has inspired her to want to continue…
I had the fortunate opportunity of volunteering for FTEC over the past few years. It was great to get involved with the event and see what goes on behind the scenes. While I was volunteering I also got to see the fights, and that was something I got really excited about. It was from that moment onward that I decided that I really wanted to step into the ring! On a more personal note, I have also had several family members that have been diagnosed with cancer. A few of them have overcome it, but I have also lost three of them to cancer including my grandfather, my aunt and my sister. This year is the 15th anniversary of the my sister’s passing; she was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma which is the same type of cancer as Terry Fox.
I have had no prior experience whatsoever with fighting, and as for boxing, aside from taking some conditioning classes in previous years, I had minimal knowledge beyond the basics. Boxing is completely different than anything I have ever done.
I do not have any sports background aside from what I did at school in gym class. I actually have a dance background so it’s funny that I am going from dance to boxing. My dance background; however has helped me with some aspects of my boxing such as my footwork.
Training has been going well. The one thing you keep hearing from everyone, including our coach Virgil, is that you experience your best and worst days in the gym. You basically have to take it a step at a time and not get discouraged when you do not get something the first, second or even the third time. Sometimes you just have to say, “you know what, I showed up and I did it!”
In terms of the actual training, we focus a lot of time on shadow boxing. When you shadow box you are constantly trying to imagine the punches your opponent could be throwing and find ways to try to defend yourself while also focusing on your offence .
We also do a lot of sparring with past FTEC fighters and other fighters in the gym. You definitely learn a lot from them, especially when they tell you about their experiences in the ring. Essentially, when you are up against the best, it really pushes you to want to become better yourself.
The aggression component is something that I have to work on. While I have my moments when I get frustrated, by nature I am not an aggressive person, so that has been a bit of a challenge.
When I am trying to think through my moves, my default is to become more defensive as opposed to going on the offence; however I have become a lot more comfortable with throwing punches.
Ultimately, the aggression comes from somewhere; I am not quite sure where, it is still something I am trying to figure out, but I know it will be there by fight night.
Boxing is a sport that really empowers you. I look at how I have evolved over the past year, and it is incredible to see the transformation. This has been such an incredible journey; I am happy to see how I have been able to push myself and what I have been able to accomplish. When you box you develop this new found confidence. I have the mentality that it does not matter what the hurdles are in life, I can find a way to overcome them.
And not to mention, it sounds pretty bad ass when you tell people you are a boxer!!
All jokes aside, I have also developed a new found confidence which I think stems from being part of the community at Kingsway Boxing Club. There are so many people who are so supportive and have provided me with words of encouragement every step of the way. Ultimately without them, in addition to my friends and family, I would not have been able to keep on pushing through.
I think the interesting thing about preparing for this fight is that all the fighters are in the same gym training at the same time, so you really get to know one another. There are definitely no hard feelings between myself and Sam. Of course we have been egged on by other people and everyone laughs because we are so nice to one another. We both realize that we are fighting for something that is bigger than ourselves, so despite the outcome, we are both going to be winners coming out of it. We will have raised x amount of dollars for cancer research and that is the main thing. However, the moment we step into the ring the punches will be flying, as we are both competitive in that respect, but in the end, regardless of whether I win or lose, I will be proud that I went the distance and stepped into the ring.
Jennifer is awe inspiring. She is so passionate about FTEC that you cannot help but want to get excited about it! She is also a family friend and knew my aunt that passed away, so I have a personal connection to her.
Jennifer is just this fire cracker and is always bursting with energy whenever she steps into a room. She is also incredibly kind and compassionate; she is the type of person that would give you the shirt off her back. Whatever is bothering you, she will provide you with the support and encouragement that you need; she will help you find a solution to any problem. It is just so incredible to be a part of her vision for FTEC.
She is also an incredible boxer and coach! You really admire her because not only is she passionate about FTEC, she is also spirited about the sport of boxing. When you go to her classes she really takes the time to make sure you understand what you are doing and why things are not working .
My advice would be to never underestimate your capabilities. We all have a tendency to be really
hard on ourselves and if you are in a situation like myself or even starting a new job for example, you need to allow yourself the time to acquire a new skill and not demand perfection from the start. Never go into something thinking ‘ I can’t’. There is always a possibility of being good at something if you believe in yourself enough. It is inevitable that you will encounter people that will tell you that you cannot do something. Ultimately you have to live your life for yourself and not for other people. As long as you can face yourself in the mirror and be happy with the choices you have made, then that is what is important.