Lucile Woodward, sports coach Sarah Ourahmoune, world boxing champion
Sarah Ourahmoune is France’s boxer with the most medals to her credit. Via her association Boxer Inside and her upcoming book (Robert Laffont), she defends her commitments as a woman and athlete. She has a 4-year-old daughter, Ayna.
You started boxing at 16. What made you choose this sport?
It was pure chance. I’d just moved into the area and was looking for somewhere to do tae kwon do, but the place had just burnt down. Out of curiosity, I wandered into the boxing gym next door. It was a magnificent gym. The trainer persuaded me to have a go. I was immediately drawn to the atmosphere and strategies implemented in the ring.
Which values does boxing pass on to young people?
A lot! I’d say self-confidence, pushing your limits, empathy and bouncing back again after losing. At 16, I was very introverted. Boxing set me free. It also helped me to reassess myself quickly after each little physical or mental mistake. It builds up strong mindsets!
Does boxing help adolescents to manage their emotions?
Yes. When one gets angry in the ring, one inevitably makes mistakes. Sanctions are immediate. So one has to control one’s stress and emotions in order to come out on top.
How did your high-profile boxing career influence your daughters life?
My daughter is quite at home in the boxing world. When she was six months old, I used to take her with me when I was training for the Olympics. Which, moreover, encouraged me to be very efficient and to return to boxing in the best conditions! She liked to come and see me and played at copying me. But, for the moment, she says she doesn’t want to box.
You’ve founded the association Boxer Inside which, amongst other things, offers boxing lessons combined with a day nursery. Where did you get this idea from?
I wanted to encourage young mothers to box but reality soon hit me: how hard it was to find a time of day when they’d be available. It wasn’t a lack of motivation that prevented them from coming to sign up, but the fact that they had to look after their child(ren). But I managed to find a slot and they came!