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A timely switch is reviving the career of Sierra Leonean boxer Sarah Haggigat-Jew MIGMG News

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Sarah Haggigat-Jew was once a promising boxer coming up through the ranks in Canadian boxing. However, in 2021, a chance conversation with her grandmother will completely change the path of her career.

After struggling to navigate the system in her home country, where the national federation is mired in politics, and allegations of a toxic culture and bullying, her attempts to continue boxing by securing an Irish passport through her husband failed.

Then when her grandmother mentioned Sierra Leone’s generational heritage, she switched from representing North America to Africa to pursue her boxing dream.

Now boxing under the flag and federation of Sierra Leone, supported by the IBA’s financial assistance to nations not funded through their national federation, Sarah is a continental champion and hopes to be on the podium at the 2023 Women’s World Championship in New Delhi this year Sunday. where he will participate in the category up to 54 kg.

“The decision made a lot of sense to me, there was a lot of politics going on in Canada at the time, and with the pandemic, Canada (boxing) wasn’t doing much. They didn’t send us anywhere,” Sara told the media on Tuesday.

Sarah Hagigat Jo.

“I just wanted to compete. “For an athlete, a boxer, the number of years left in your career is limited, so I chose to fight for Africa instead.”

She has Iranian heritage on her father’s side, but that country is without a national federation. Learning the slightest connection to Sierra Leone, then, ended up being a godsend.

Sarah was in Mozambique in September at the African Championships, where she won gold under the flag of Sierra Leone. The pugilist says performing and winning big medals for lesser-known nations can be a huge boost for athletes from across the region.

“Every time I win, the federation gets funds. “Growing the sport for them is a big goal for me,” she said. “There just aren’t enough opportunities.” If these events are not done, we will not be exposed either to Europe, or to Asia, and to the boxers from these areas. This can act as a huge opportunity to prepare for the Olympic qualifiers and the Olympics, so it’s massive.”

Sarah Hagigat Jo. (UWA)

The World Championships in Delhi will not be an Olympic qualifying event due to a clash between the International Boxing Association (IBA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Top boxers from Canada, the US, Ireland, Great Britain and Sweden will also miss the event after their federations decided to boycott the event largely due to the IBA – whose president is Russian – allowing Russian and Belarusian boxers to compete under their flags.

In effect, this means Sarah will be the only Canadian boxer in the Indian capital this week. She says such opportunities were usually rare at home anyway, so much so that many of her former colleagues saw her journey and considered using their secondary passport or dual citizenship to compete internationally.

When boxing in her home country, Sarah was rarely sent to international events and was not adequately funded, having to fend for herself through crowdfunding and working as a personal trainer and boxing trainer. During a three-year layoff – two of which are mandatory for international boxers who change their national affiliation – from 2018 to 2021, Sarah spent much of her time as a personal trainer to make ends meet.

During this time, however, her husband and coach Stephen Bailey pushed her to compete at a lower level in Ireland, where she won nationals twice. She was winning and gaining confidence to take advantage of the opportunity that eventually fell to her.

“She was active, and I sent her to camps, with people I trusted, so she could be with the best girls and compete with them and evaluate her level,” Stephen said. “To be honest, I think it (the three-year break) might have helped. Instead of competing at the highest level and dealing with that pressure, we were getting the activity at the highest level without the pressure. In retrospect, that may have played a role in her development.”

Sarah came to New Delhi for the 2018 World Cup. Back then, still under the Canadian flag, her story was inspiring after she decided to go solo, relying on crowdfunding and taking on her own expenses. With new national attachments, that may no longer be the case, but with a new dimension, her story continues to do the same.


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