Georgia O’Connor: “I’ve been really ill and nearly died. So I thought you only get one life, I’ve realised what’s important and I want to be happy.“
I last spoke to Georgia O’Connor earlier this year. The focus then was a law degree with ambitions to be a solicitor or a career elsewhere in that field. The impressive amateur career was on hold, a break needed to find herself again. Georgia wasn’t happy with how things were at that stage of her boxing career. There was the temptation to turn pro, but the likelihood was that she would return to Team GB to try and qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games.
But life has a way of finding new meaning, Georgia earlier this year had a life and death experience that completely changed her outlook and recently announced her intention to turn professional on the back of that traumatic experience:
“I’ve been really ill and nearly died. So I thought you only get one life, I’ve realised what’s important and I want to be happy. Turning professional will do that and I will be doing it on a much bigger stage than if I stayed as an amateur where I wasn’t 100% happy. Being ill and nearly dying just made me realise how important life is and I want to do something I love. I could stay as an amateur and try for the Olympics but there is no guarantee I would go there in either 4 or even 8 years, and then I would be thinking why didn’t I turn pro when I was younger.”
Pulmonary Embolism an extremely serious condition which in simple terms is a blood clot in the lungs was the root of the problem. Fate intervened, but it could have been a completely different ending. Georgia had experienced pains in her left side, which she initially put down to the effects of training, a muscle strain perhaps. The pain got worse and it spread and her parents took her to the hospital, where she collapsed and was diagnosed with PE and told if she hadn’t have come to the hospital on that day she would likely have suffered a cardiac arrest and died in her sleep. Georgia told FightPost the chances of her surviving were not on her side:
“Statistically I shouldn’t be here, if I would have gone to sleep on the night I went to the hospital I wouldn’t have woken up. Two out of three people who get it die with it, it is a horrible horrible thing.”
Georgia is back training now, and thankfully there seems to be no lasting damage:
“It’s gone now, they don’t know how, but it’s gone. My lungs are working fine, obviously, I have to wait and get myself fit again but I am fine pretty much. It’s just a miracle.”
Georgia went to the Vision Health Gym with a friend of hers to do some training, and by chance, she found out that Mark Clauzel trained some professionals there. The two got talking and out of that meeting by chance, Clauzel will now manage and train Georgia on her professional journey:
“I’ve been training with my new coach Mark, just getting to know him and gel with him. I feel fantastic with him already. As soon as I met him I thought he was a really good person and I felt I could really trust him. It’s like fate, I believe we were meant to be together. It’s like something good comes out of something bad.”
With women’s boxing flourishing at the moment, there are opportunities out there for aspiring professionals. There is a lack of depth still, but there is little doubt that will soon be a thing of the past. Matchroom is leading the way signing up a plethora of talent with more seemingly on the way. But the hope is other promotions will soon enter the fray, and Georgia is keeping her options open with meetings planned in the next few weeks:
“We’ve got some meetings set up with some big promoters including one with Sky. Now Eddie Hearn has gone to DAZN, Sky are looking to work with different promoters now.”
Georgia is only 21, and certainly has plenty of time on her hands. It would be all to easy to rush back into action, but with her recent health problems and looking for time to gel with her new coach, Georgia wants to wait for when the time is right:
“I would love to have my professional debut this year. But at the moment I am just chilling and getting to know my new coach and follow his advice. I am in no rush I just want to do everything properly, and to make sure I am in a good place.”
With most of the focus in British women’s boxing focussed on the lower weight categories, Georgia will be a welcomed and much-needed addition to the heavier ranks which badly need more depth. In the last period of her unpaid career, Georgia struggled with the lack of weight divisions and making the required weight, and clearly wants to avoid repeating those problems as a professional.
“I am probably looking at super-welterweight, I just want to fight at a weight I will be healthy at.“
Despite the decision to turn professional Georgia has no intention of giving up on her education. With the option to spread the degree over 6 years if needed, Georgia is determined to finish the course and have something to fall back on when her boxing career ends:
“I am going to have to quit my job down the café to focus more on my boxing. I am still doing my law degree which I will be doing around the Gateshead/Newcastle area. Education is important I am a big believer in that. My parents always tell me education education. If I need to go part-time to complete my degree to concentrate more on boxing then I can do that. I never like starting anything and not finishing it, so as long as I finish it and have that backup plan then that’s me sorted.”
There is no doubt Georgia is a serious talent, and looks set for very big things in her new life as a professional boxer. Clauzel is already talking about winning world titles, the ambition and expectations are exceedingly high.
But at just 21, and mature beyond her young years Georgia knows she has time and plenty of it. There is no rush and with time to fully develop and with the amateur accolades she already has, those big ambitions are not beyond the realm of possibilities. Georgia is relieved for sure, the story could have been much different. But there is now a happy fighter and one that looks certain to achieve very big things. The professional ranks have gained a potential star.