This Olympic Boxer Didn’t Want to Compete—But Her Talent Couldn’t Be Ignored

Mandy Bujold on how she made it happen

(Photo: Virgil Barrow)
(Photo: Virgil Barrow)

Name: Mandy Bujold

Job title: Olympic Boxer

Age: 32

From: Cobourg, Ont.

Currently lives in: Kitchener, Ont.

Education: Diploma in business, Conestoga College; partially completed BA in liberal arts, University of Waterloo

First job out of school: Running the High Performance Mentorship Camp, a two-day workshop for athletes ages 15-18.

Mandy Bujold was once a reluctant boxer. The nine-time national champion and Olympian picked up her first pair of gloves when she was 15 years old, inspired by one of her two older brothers who had joined a local boxing gym. She wasn’t really interested in sports but wanted to try boxing for fun and to learn a new skill. Turns out she was a natural and easily picked it up. “Right away I thought it was the coolest atmosphere,” says Bujold of the Waterloo Regional Boxing Academy, where she first tried the sport. “I loved how demanding it was.” Despite her obvious talent, it took some convincing for her to take the first step towards competition. “I loved the training and demands of it, but I didn’t want to compete. I would even make excuses not to get into the ring, which is where you do the sparring.” Eventually, with the encouragement of her coaches and teammates, Bujold stepped into the ring.

“In my first competition, I stopped the girl in the second round,” she recalls. “My coach was really excited. I didn’t really know what I’d done or what was going on because it was my first competitive experience.” Bujold went from her first competitive fight to her first national competition (where she took home the junior title) in one year. From there, she continued winning competitions while smashing gender stereotypes as a female boxer. (“You tell people you’re a boxer and you get laughed at, mostly by your male counterparts.”)

Bujold’s journey hasn’t been without setbacks. In 2016, she was named to Canada’s Olympic team. She advanced to the quarterfinals but suffered a defeat after being hospitalized for an illness the night before. Last year, she stepped back from international competition (a move spurred on by Boxing Canada’s decision to centralize all athletes in Montreal) and welcomed her daughter, Kate, who just turned one. During this period, she also launched Champions of Charity, a charity boxing event that helps business professionals step into the ring for one night to raise money for the Juravinski Cancer Centre and McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation. Wanting to get back into shape, Bujold started training again and quickly eased into it.

Now, the new mom is getting ready to step back into competition with her eye on Tokyo 2020. “I never got to show what I was capable of—that’s constantly in my mind,” she says of the Olympic Games. “That goal is always there, and now I look at my daughter and think if she was going through this decision, I would tell her to go for it. That’s an extra motivator for me.”

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