The FightPost Interviews: Natasha Jonas
Natasha Jonas had her hopes of a football career ended by a serious knee injury and that took her life in a completely direction.
Starting her boxing career in 2005, Jonas quickly rose through the ranks and she had a highly impressive amateur career including a bronze medal at the 2012 world amateur championships and losing narrowly to Katie Taylor in the quarter-finals at the London Olympics.
Jonas eventually retired from the sport in 2015 due to an injury that meant she would have to miss the qualifiers for the 2016 Olympics, before the opportunity to turn professional came a few years later. In a previous interview Jonas told me:
“In the amateur game, I don’t think I ever realised my full potential and I still had things I felt I could achieve in boxing.”
Jonas joined the paid ranks in 2017 and she went unbeaten in 6 fights and was on the verge of a world title fight and a rematch with Taylor before running into Viviane Obenauf in 2018.
With her unbeaten record gone and confidence shattered, Jonas quietly and steadily began the long road back, but she needed to rebuild mentally as much as physically :
“It was really hard to get over it, it wasn’t just the fact that I lost, it happens frequently in the amateurs. It was just the manner of the defeat to Viviane, getting stopped like that. The shot that did the damage was similar to the shot that put Deontay Wilder over against Tyson Fury. It knocks your equilibrium out and you can’t recover, that’s what happened to me. I just wanted to prove that I could still do it in the first fight back after the loss, not get hit and keep my concentration. But in the next one I got back my confidence and I started punching with power again which is one of my biggest attributes.”
After two wins and the confidence returning Jonas closed out her 2019 with an easier than expected win over Bianka Majlath in her hometown of Liverpool, but the fight left as much frustration as satisfaction:
“I probably would have been better boxing her two fights before, straight after the loss, her record looked really good and people had warned me it could be a really tricky fight. So I prepared myself for a really tough fight. But I knew from the very first shot that I would win, I was so annoyed, it’s nobody’s fault these things happen.”
Despite not perhaps getting the rounds she wanted or needed from the Majlath fight, Jonas can still consider 2019 a success after what happened the previous year, 3 wins, her confidence back and very much looking ahead to some big fights this year:
“I’m looking at getting back in the spring, I’m just waiting for MTK to get me some dates. I’m not like a Terri Harper who has got loads of time, there are things I want to achieve right now. Yes, I have had a setback, but that is all it was. I want to fight for titles, anyone who has a title is on my radar.”
To the surprise of some, a revenge rematch with Obenauf isn’t high on Jonas’s agenda:
“If she had a title, then definitely I would fight her, that’s not being disrespectful to her but at the moment there is nothing in it for me, little reward. Even if I beat her people will say I should have beaten her in the first place, I get nothing out of it, as I say I am chasing titles.”
Jonas can’t imagine not being involved in boxing after her ring career, but doesn’t see her own boxing career ending anytime soon but nevertheless is already making plans for life after boxing:
“I have been very lucky I haven’t had a lot of hard fights and I didn’t start boxing until I was 21, but I know I am getting older. In terms of life after boxing, I have got a business set up with one of my sponsors helping people with a right to buy. I am also in the process of setting up a registered charity helping young kids cope with school better through boxing as a tool to help them through school. Boxing has given me so much and I would also like to be a mentor and a coach to young kids when I have retired, to give something back to the sport.”
Jane Couch won a brave and landmark court case in 1998 to legalise women being allowed to box professionally and her importance to the sport should never ever be forgotten or undervalued. But the sport has struggled to get off the ground in many ways since, but things are now gradually starting to change.
“I think it’s getting the recognition now, it started in 2012, with the likes of Katie Taylor, Nicola Adams and myself turning pro, the opportunity wasn’t there before to make a living out of the sport. I think it is a good idea to get a good amateur pedigree behind you first, but more and more women are deciding to turn over. Despite the sport being around since the days of Jane Couch, it is still a relatively new sport, but there is a definite change and more will turn pro following this years Olympics.”
We have recently witnessed with Wilder, and it seems a common trend in the sport, one loss and your career is apparently over, and Jonas was written off by some when she unexpectedly lost. But Jonas has shown that Liverpool fighting pride, a city she says, “She will never leave.” Despite contemplating retirement that determination to reach her full potential drove Jonas back to the sport. Fighting on and with 3 wins since that shocking night in Wales, has seen Jonas back to where she was before that loss in 2018. A world title fight was so close then, 2020 should see that elusive opportunity finally arrive.