Kristina O’Hara McCafferty: “It just felt right, being out for so long and then this opportunity comes about and it isn’t something you pass on.”
By Will Lott
After a three year break from the sport and over a decade of experience boxing, Kristina O’Hara McCafferty has now signed a professional contract with Unified Promotions.
As an amateur Kristina had a dominant career with over 100 fights and over 90 wins fighting all over the world and suffering just one defeat in her home country of Ireland.
“I started boxing when I was 11, just in a youth centre with my mates and I just fell in love with it. When I started boxing, there weren’t many, if any females at the time so when I was winning competitions, a lot of them were by walkover. As I got older and the weight started increasing I found myself with more competition but it was still a predominantly male sport.”
Kristina managed to win 14 Irish titles, European Youth Gold medal, an Ulster League title and most recently a commonwealth gold silver.
“I was only ever beaten in Ireland once in my first year as an elite by Ceire Smith. My other defeats were in major tournaments like the World Championships and European Championships. I always feel like I carried myself well in victory and defeat. There were a lot of decisions that shouldn’t have happened but I took it on the chin. I’d always cheer on the team and even the people that beat me.”
Kristina has not actually been in the ring for three years with her last fight ending in defeat in the final of the Commonwealth games. Falling out of love with the sport, coupled with becoming a parent for the first time has meant she has been unable to fight but encouragement from family and friends has helped her appreciation for the sport to return.
“I’ve been training but I didn’t really want to go back. It’s hard to get back after a baby and was being encouraged by my partner, my family and friends. It got me thinking, I’ll give it another go but I didn’t want to carry on as an amateur.”
After looking down the routes to qualify for the Olympics, McCafferty was unable to be considered due to her inactivity, further prompting the decision to turn over.
Now a professional, McCafferty decided to sign terms with newcomers Unified Promotions, run by Susanna Schofield, who are looking to sign only female fighters. Kristina signed on to become their first signing but have since added Lauren Parker to their roster.
“I loved the fact she was interested in female boxing only. Growing up, it was all about the male fighters and even to this day it sort of still is. It felt empowering to have someone that was so passionate about equal treatment and equal pay.
“It just felt right, being out for so long and then this opportunity comes about and it isn’t something you pass on. She’d been onto me for a while but it wasn’t until a few months ago that we met on Zoom.”
Kristina expects her debut to take place on an all-female bill, a feat which has not previously been achieved. World champion Katie Taylor has become a true superstar in boxing and is certainly bringing new fans to the sport.
“She’s amazing. There were no women in boxing when I had come around. She has set the bar so high. She gave us all an opportunity so it can be done. There are a lot of amazing female boxers coming out in England as well with the likes of Natasha Jonas. It’s amazing seeing women winning world titles. There’s champions everywhere.”
For now Kristina must deal with the struggles of balance being a professional athlete with being a parent to her young son.
“It’s already been so close to impossible. He’s one and a half but we’re still up all night on occasion. It’s going to be challenging but also rewarding. When you’ve had a long day but you come home and see your baby boy is what I want. I’m doing this for him and for my family. To have that feeling they’re proud of you is something else.”
With an exceptional amateur career behind her, Kristina is aiming to be a world champion in the future and hopefully, can inspire the next generation of fighters in the same way the likes of Katie Taylor have.