E Eleven years ago, when I was just a little girl with a big dream, I had to call myself Colin and pretend to be a boy in order to get into a boxing ring. nine years old and girls were banned from boxing at the famous Repton Boys Club in the eastfrom London. All these years later, I am so happy that the girl who was called Colin, and tried to disguise her true identity, arrived in Tokyo to fight for the GB team in the Olympic Games . It was quite a journey.
My big brother Daniel boxed at Repton and I copied everything he did. I fell in love with boxing and convinced our dad he should take me to the gym too. He understood because boxing runs in our blood . One of our ancestors, Sylvia Dubois, was an African-American slave who won her freedom as a hand-to-hand combatant in the 18th century.
Dad is a bit rebellious andhe thought of a way to go beyond the “boys only” tradition at Repton. He told me to call myself Carl when we got to the gym, but, with the nerves quivering inside me, I said "Colin" instead when they did. asked for my name. It didn't matter because I managed to keep my secret at Repton for a year.
The head coach was against the idea of women 's boxing but, thinking I was a boy, he said to my father after my first session: "Your son Colin has something special.
We kept quiet and I enjoyed beating all the boys in sparring. Another trainer said the boy named Colin was destined to be a world champion someday. But things got worse when the head coach arranged a fight for me which involved a medical exam before stepping into the ring. My father had to tell them the truthity. It was the end of my time in Repton.
My father struggled to convince Dale Youth Boxing Club, which was in the basement of the old Grenfell Tower, for me to join. Gary McGuinness, the head coach, had the same "no girls" policy as Repton. Dad urged Gary to give me a chance.
Gary was so impressed after a workout that I could finally be myself - a boxer called Caroline. He quickly told me I would box at the Olympics, and 10 years later Gary's prediction is about to come true.
We were living in Greenwich when London 2012 took place just 20 minutes in Stratford. I was still fighting for Dale and my Olympic dream began during this unforgettable summer. Usain Bolt, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis were the stars of the track but I only had eyes for the ring. Of course I followed Anthony Joshua, who won the gold , but I was captivated by Nicola Adams and Natasha Jonas. It was the first time that women were allowed to box at the Olympics and, watching it on TV with my family, I was blown away.
I remember the atmosphere like Natasha and Katie Taylor walked to the ring . The noise was incredible and that was when women's boxing got very real to me. Katie is now the most famous boxer on the planet, but she almost losing to Natasha when they met again as professional p in one of the big fightsts of 2021. Nine years ago they inspired me. Nicola also by becoming the first Briton to win Olympic gold in boxing .