The History Of Women’s Boxing: A Boxing Canada Feature

Did you know that the roots of women’s boxing can be traced back to the 18th century?

Elizabeth Wilkinson made history in London as she fought her way to claim the title of European Championess, taking on opponents of both genders. During those times, boxing allowed techniques such as kicking and gouging, which are now strictly prohibited in modern-day boxing.

Despite its centuries-old origins, it wasn’t until 2012 that women were granted the opportunity to compete in boxing at the Olympic level for the first time. The groundbreaking progress witnessed at the London 2012 Olympics paved the way for the emergence of the world’s inaugural 12 female Olympic medallist boxers. While this progress was historic, equality remained a distant goal, with only 3 women’s weight classes represented at the 2012 Olympics. However, as the road to the Paris 2024 Olympics approaches, equality in the sport is also drawing closer, with 7 men’s and 6 women’s weight classes now being included.

This International Women’s Day, we want to acknowledge some of the inspiring women who have represented Canada in amateur Olympic and professional boxing! 🇨🇦 🥊

Tammara Thibeault

Tammara Thibeault is a beast of a boxer from Quebec. Even fracturing her nose twice in a month did not bring this one’s spirit down! She won gold at the 2017 Pan American Championships at 75kg, gold at the 2022 and bronze at the 2019 World Championships. At the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, Thibeault won the bronze medal in the middleweight event and the list just continues. She is power packed, a 2020 Tokyo Olympian and hopes to qualify for the upcoming Olympic Games!

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Scarlett Delgado

Scarlett’s boxing journey took a significant turn in 2020 when she considered quitting due to her weight class’s absence from the Olympic program. However, her enthusiasm reignited after assisting a teammate’s Tokyo 2020 training and learning that her weight class would be reinstated for Paris 2024. This revelation fueled her determination to excel. She secured the gold medal in the 54kg category at both the 2022 and 2023 AMBC American Continental Championships, showcasing her prowess internationally. Additionally, Scarlett advanced to the Round of 16 at the 2022 IBA World Championships. Introduced to boxing at 17, Scarlett grew up around the sport, with her father running a boxing gym. This upbringing instilled in her a deep appreciation for boxing’s artistry and the qualities it demands, including timing, emotional control, and grit. She views boxing as more than just a sport but as a form of artistic expression. A favorite quote by Pablo Picasso, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away,” reflects her belief in sharing one’s talents for the greater good.

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Charlie Cavanagh

Charlie Cavanagh is a member of the Canadian national team competing at 66kg, originally from New Brunswick. She picked up boxing at the age of 13 years old as a recreational member. Her father had been involved in boxing for years already, and she was eager to partake in all sports, especially contact sport. Prior to being part of the elite national team, she competed for the youth national team, where she placed for silver at the Youth Continental Championships, and gold at the Youth World Championships in 2018.

After joining the elite team in 2022, Charlie competed at the Elite Continental Championships, winning the bronze medal, followed by the Women World Championships where she won the silver medal.

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Sara Kali

Sara Kali, aged 32, emerged as the victor in the December Olympic Trials held in Montreal, Canada. With an impressive display of skill and determination, Sara clinched victory in the trials, securing her place as a formidable contender in the world of boxing. Her triumph underscores her dedication and perseverance in pursuit of her athletic goals. As she continues to pursue excellence in the sport, Sara’s achievements serve as a testament to her talent and commitment to her craft.

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Terris Smith

Terris Smith, a talented athlete, is 30 years old and recently emerged victorious in the December Olympic Trials held in Montreal, Canada. Despite facing stiff competition, Terris showcased her exceptional skills and determination, securing the win in this prestigious event. Her success highlights not only her prowess inside the ring but also her unwavering dedication to the sport of boxing. Terris’s achievement in the December Olympic Trials underscores her as a standout female boxer, poised to make her mark on the Olympic stage. As she continues to pursue her athletic aspirations, Terris Smith’s triumph serves as a testament to her talent, resilience, and determination in the pursuit of excellence in boxing.

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Marie Al-Ahmadieh

Marie Al-Ahmadieh, at just 19 years old, has already made significant strides in her boxing career. In 2022, she demonstrated her talent on the international stage by finishing in the top 8 at the Youth World Championship in Alicante, Spain. She further solidified her standing as a promising athlete by earning a Silver Medal at the Bornemissza Youth Memorial Tournament in Eger, Hungary, and securing Gold at the Brandenburg Youth Tournament in Germany.

Continuing her impressive trajectory into 2023, Marie showcased her skill and determination by emerging as the Pan Am Games Box Off Winner in Montreal, Canada. She followed this achievement with a Silver Medal at the AMBC Continental Championship in Cali, Colombia. Making her debut appearance at the Pan Am Games in Santiago, Chile, Marie demonstrated her competitive spirit and prowess in the ring.

Most notably, Marie clinched victory at the December Olympic Trials in Montreal, Canada, further cementing her status as a rising star in the boxing world. With her exceptional achievements and unwavering dedication to the sport, Marie Al-Ahmadieh is poised to continue making waves in the realm of boxing on both national and international platforms.

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Mckenzie Wright

McKenzie’s boxing journey is a testament to perseverance and passion. After a four-year hiatus, she made a triumphant return to the ring in 2023, clinching her third senior national title at the Canadian Championships. Her renewed dedication to the sport blossomed while living in South Africa, reigniting her love for boxing before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought her back to Canada.

Fuelled by a newfound determination, McKenzie devoted herself to rigorous training for a year, culminating in a remarkable victory in her comeback fight against a multi-time American champion. Her success didn’t stop there – she also secured the bronze medal in the 50kg category at the 2023 AMBC American Continental Championships and replicated her bronze achievement for Canada at the Pan Am Games in Santiago, Chile, later that fall.

Introduced to combat sports through a high school self-defence class, McKenzie transitioned to amateur kickboxing at 17 before finding her true calling in boxing. A graduate of Niagara College’s Practical Nursing Program, she harbors ambitions of a career in cosmetic nursing. Inspired by the legendary two-time Olympian Mandy Bujold, McKenzie regards her as both a mentor and friend.

Before stepping into the ring, McKenzie draws inspiration from her trusted book, “Winning State Wrestling,” and lives by the motto, “Don’t talk about it, just be about it.” Her journey exemplifies resilience, determination, and the unwavering pursuit of excellence in both sport and life.

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Myriam Dasilva

Just a few months after she joined the national team, Myriam Da Silva won 69kg gold at the 2012 Americas Continental Championships in Cornwall, Ontario. Later that year, she made her debut at the AIBA World Championships. In 2014, she was a silver medallist at the continental championships and made her second world championship appearance.  

In 2015, Da Silva underwent surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome in her right hand. The next year, she broke her thumb in that same hand. She dropped in the world rankings and was unable to compete at the world championships. After rehab, she finished second at the Canadian Championships and was not selected for the 2018 Commonwealth Games team. 

Da Silva did regain her national title in 2018 and made the quarterfinals for the first time at the world championships. She was selected to compete in her first international multi-sport competition, the Lima 2019 Pan Am Games, where she won the 69kg silver medal. In her Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, Da Silva was eliminated in the Round of 16.  

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Mary Spencer

A 75 kilogram middleweight from Wiarton, Ontario, Mary Spencer has won three World Championships, one Pan American Games gold medal, and eight Canadian Championships. In 2012, Mary made history as the first Canadian and the first Aboriginal female boxer to compete in the London Olympics.

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Mandy Bujold

From Cobourg, Ontario, weighing in at 51 kg (112 lbs.), Mandy Bujold has had numerous titles and victories attributed to her name. She’s won 11 Canadian National Championships, 3 Continental Championships, a Gold medal at the first Pan American Games and a Bronze medal at the first Commonwealth Games that included women’s boxing. In addition to her long list of accolades, Mandy represented Canada at the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and continues to inspire.

Fun Fact: During regular operation at Kingsway Boxing Club, Mandy Bujold would join our Girl’s Youth Program to help inspire and coach our team.

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Ariane Fortin

Ariane Fortin is a true Canadian hero and a two-time World Boxing Champion. Featured in the film Last Woman Standing and from Quebec, Ariane achieved her career highlight by representing Canada at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She also made headlines at the 2014 Commonwealth Games by winning the silver medal and a bronze medal at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada. Her journey represents the true definition of perseverance! Fortin was Boxing Canada’s Female Boxer of the Year in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

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Kim Clavel

Kim Clavel is a Canadian professional boxer who has held the WBC-NABF light flyweight title since 2019. What really makes Kim Clavel stand out is her commitment to her community. Last year in March 2020 when her first main event was cancelled, she decided to temporarily drop her gloves and get back into her nursing scrubs to help during the pandemic! Truly inspirational!

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Caroline Veyre

Caroline won bronze at her very first Canadian championships in 2009. By 2012 she had moved up to claim silver and in 2013 she won the first of her two straight national titles. If that wasn’t impressive enough, in 2013 she made her debut at the American Women’s Continental Championships and won a bronze medal. Veyre went on to earn her spot on the Canadian Team for TORONTO 2015 by winning the Pan Am Games qualifying tournament. She’s now on a mission to qualify and represent Canada at the Tokyo 2020ne Olympic Games.

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Marie-Eve Dicaire

Marie-Ève Dicaire from Quebec, has held the IBF female light middleweight title since 2018. Prior to her professional career, Dicaire represented Canada as an amateur boxer. In 2013, she was named athlete of the year by Boxing Quebec. As of September 2020, she is ranked as the world’s second best active female light middleweight! What a woman!

Fun Fact: On March 5, 2021, Dicaire headlined on the “SUPERWOMEN: SHIELDS VS. DICAIRE”, an all-female night of professional boxing, featuring a 10-round 154-pound unification showdown against the undefeated three-division and current WBC/WBO Super Welterweight World champion Claressa Shields.

More About Marie-Eve

Women’s boxing has come a long way with some of the fiercest females representing the country and this International Women’s Day we truly salute them!


Other female boxers who have paved the way in the sport of boxing include: Amanda Galle, Jaime Clampitt, Diana Dutra, Lindsay Garbatt, Jeannine Garside, Vanessa Lepage Joanisse, Noriko Kariya, Jelena Mrdjenovich, Jessica Rakoczy, Kara Ro and Vaia Zaganas.

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