Georgia O’Connor: “I just like to make people smile and put some happiness into the world.”

Georgia O’Connor: I just like to make people smile and put some happiness into the world.”

A parent can’t wait for their children to learn to walk, but for Georgia O’Connor, it was a close run thing between learning to walk and learning how to throw combinations:

“When we lived in France my Dad used to let me hit the pads, I was only 3 when we started doing that, and I could barely walk properly at the time. He always wanted me to be able to look after myself with the way the world is, and the dangers for women that are out there.”

The early years were spent in France, before the move to England when Georgia was just 5. Georgia has a supportive family unit and she tells FightPost that she will be forever grateful for what her parents have done for her. Her Dad has dedicated much of his life to Georgia and her boxing endeavours. The bond with her father is a deep one, her best friend, someone who she would be lost without:

“My Dad took me to a taekwondo class when I was 6. I had my black belt when I was 8 and won 3 national titles. That was initially going to be my goal, taekwondo would be my life now I thought, going to the Olympics in that sport. But then the sport started to change after the 2008 Olympics. They introduced these electronic sensors and it became less of a combat sport and more like a tippy-tappy point-scoring contest. I had stopped half of my fights and I used to love knocking people out and I thought this is not for me anymore, I wanted a change and a different challenge. I tried Thai-boxing, kickboxing and MMA, I knocked around a few gyms had a couple of Thai-boxing and kickboxing fights just as a hobby and my Dad then said why don’t you try boxing. I was about 10 and boxing was on the rise with the 2012 Olympics. My Dad said I had nothing to lose so I tried boxing and I have never looked back. I just knew in my heart that was the sport I wanted to focus on.”

Georgia started training in 2010, had her first fight in 2015, and is over 30 fights into her amateur career. With only the one solitary defeat in the UK, the few defeats on her record were on the international stage. At 21, the future looks bright for the Durham fighter. There have been medals at youth championships in Europe, the Commonwealth and even on the world stage. But that impressive resume looks like only the beginning of the story. But injury can cut short any career and there is a back-up plan should her boxing career end prematurely:

“I was boxing for Team GB but I always had in the back of my mind that I would be too young for the 2020 Olympics so I decided to apply to go to University. My parents even though are incredibly supportive of my boxing career, always said you need something to fall back on, and that education should come first. So I applied to do a Law degree, so I could be a solicitor or a barrister, something like that.”

There is still that stereotypical viewpoint of women’s boxing that the participants do it because they have to. But with every interview I do it becomes more apparent that virtually all of them do it because they want to not because they need to. The love of the sport is what drives them to take up the sport. I have spoken to classically trained musicians, pharmacists, and Georgia is another who is looking to a possible career in law, one that might serve her well navigating through the politics of her sport. Georgia is level-headed enough to take her time in making the right decisions that will define her future. The options for her going forward seem unlimited in many different areas:

“I said to Team GB is it ok if I take a break and they said fine you’ve got all the time in the world. They have got me earmarked for 2024 or even 2028 because I will only be 28 then. They said have a break, go find yourself and focus on your education. That’s all sorted now and I start at University in September.”

The Olympics has long been the dream of Georgia, following the likes of Katie Taylor, Nicola Adams and others, seeking to have the Gold medal hanging proudly around her neck. But there is now a new temptation:

“Professional boxing for women has been on the rise since I took the break from Team GB, it seems as though I have just blinked and everyone is now on the TV. I never really thought about turning professional because I love the amateur game, I’m suited to it and I like travelling the world and the Olympics is all I wanted to do. But now I am starting to think about the titles I could win in the professional game. The sky’s the limit now, obviously, I wouldn’t turn over if there was nobody to fight, but seeing the amount of girls that are turning professional I don’t know what to do now. But there is no rush I am only 21 so I think I am going to wait it out and see what happens. I’m probably going to do another Olympic cycle but it is so tempting when I see all my friends on the television.”

There is an impressive depth to Georgia, an immensely talented young lady. Georgia is fluent in French, conversational in Italian, and her talents even expand to the music world:

“My Dad taught me how to play the guitar, but I got better than him and he then hired me a tutor. Then I started to sing, when I first started I was horrendous. But I kept practicing because I really wanted to able to sing. I then taught myself to play the drums. It’s just a hobby really but I love doing it, I love music and writing songs. I auditioned for The Voice a few years ago. I play in a few local pubs and I have played at weddings just for a bit of pocket money. I don’t take it too seriously I just like to make people smile and put some happiness into the world.”

For now, the boxing career is on hold, but sooner rather than later Georgia will return. The amateur route looks likely but the obvious temptation to join the revolution of women’s boxing might be too hard to resist. Her best friend Ellie Scotney recently made the jump to the paid ranks, and Georgia could very well join her. But time is on her side, at the right age to take her time to decide her immediate future. The professional world will at some point be in her future, and Georgia will be another talented addition to the ever-increasing talent pool of her sport.

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