Born in Colombia and adopted by Norwegians, Cecilia Braekhus wanted to become a fighter so badly that she used to jump out the window of her parents’ fourth-floored home just to attend training. She was always made to feel like a criminal in her adopted home for her passion for boxing. Little did she know that jumping out that window and facing all the criticism at home, was just the start of her battle to get accepted in the macho world of professional boxing.
The year when Cecilia was born in Cartagena, 1981, that same year professional boxing got banned in Norway. Fighters caught breaking the ‘Knockout Law’ of Norway had to face a three month imprisonment. Cecilia thus, couldn’t do her fights in Norway else she would actually be jailed.
She relocated to Germany. Though she could not compete on her home soil, she became one of Norway’s most popular athletes. Thousands of Norwegians used to come to her fights crossing the border. Her fights were also broadcasted on television in Norway with half of Norway’s population watching her. Cecilia won the sports person of the year.
Cecilia says it sounded a bit of double standard when even politicians and people from the royal family were supporting her this way but the same people would get her jailed for boxing in Norway.
Though at one point of time, Cecilia couldn’t think of the ban getting lifted ever, later in the year 2014, the ban on boxing was lifted in Norway. It was a result of public’s opinion which said the ban was ridiculous and it should be up to an individual’s choice if they want to box or not. Cecilia says she was happy that the ban got lifted while she was still boxing; now she would be able to experience it on her own.
But, Cecilia Braekhus had to start all over again as a pro in order to fight in Norway.
In November 2014, she broke her foot in the third round of a bout against Jennifer Retzke. But she still lasted the remaining seven rounds to win a unanimous decision, retaining her five welterweight titles.
Fighting the remaining seven rounds even after being injured made her injury worse. But Cecilia says it was her choice and she doesn’t regret it. She had to have an operation and the injury kept her out of boxing for a year. She considers herself lucky that she is making a comeback.
Now, the entire world is looking forward to her comeback fight, defending a 27-0 pro record, which is on 27th February against Uruguay’s Chris Namus in Germany. This will be her first fight after her injury.
Despite of all her adverse circumstances, Cecilia Braekhus never gave up on her dreams and today the orphan from Colombia has grown up to be a record breaking boxing champion. Her story is undeniably an inspiration to all those who believe in blaming circumstances for their failures rather than standing strong and chasing their dreams till the end.
She says she had a ‘very good childhood’ with her adopted parents. It was only because of her passion for boxing that gave her parents some nervous moments since it wasn’t that normal for a girl to want to join sports like that at that time. But for her, this was the only thing that she wanted to do and she made her choice.
Cecilia always had the focus and persistence to achieve all that she has today. She became the first woman boxer to unify a weight division. She won world and European amateur kickboxing titles and achieved similar success after switching to boxing at the age of 21, winning 75 of 80 non-paid fights.
Signing with a German promoter, Cecilia faced an intimidating start to her pro career in Germany and was the only girl in the gym. She says it’s been a challenge for her to be a woman in this sport from earning less than one-third of what her male colleagues at the gym were making, to establishing herself as a bona fide box office star. And now she has recently signed a new three-year TV contract.
She has been nicknamed as the ‘First Lady’ after becoming the first female fighter to sign with Sauerland, the leading European agency. She is today working with Los Angeles based K2 Promotions.
Cecilia wants promoters to offer girls the same opportunities as the guys. Girls often have to fight a little bit more for becoming a fighter today.
She says her parents are very proud of her today and her mother is with her today, serving as the chef in her present training camp. And her mother still tells her the same things that she used to tell her when Cecilia was 10. Cecilia keeps reminding her mom that she is a world champion now but for her mother, she is still that little girl who jumped out of the window.
Article By: Dakshita