Boxer Sameenah Toussaint has gone from ‘hiding behind bags’ to making the Commonwealth Games squad

When women’s boxing made its debut at the London Olympics, ten-year-old Sameenah Toussaint was hiding behind heavy bags in her local gym.

During those 2012 Games, it was Nicola Adams who stormed to her historic first gold medal. 

A decade on, the next group of talented female boxers will be looking to claim international honours after sealing their place in England's Commonwealth Games squad.

Toussaint is part of the six-strong team as she looks to emulate Adams ahead of the 2022 event in Birmingham.

She said: "My dad wanted me to learn defence but I spent all my time cowering in the corner and hiding behind the bags.

"I was the only girl in the gym and it was really intimidating. When I did start sparring, the boys either went too easy on me or deliberately tried to rough me up."

The teenager was born in Watford and felt she had no choice but to persist. What's more, there was not looking back after claiming her first junior title two year later at the age of 12.

"When I won my first schoolgirls' title it was a big turning point," she said. "I really started to enjoy it and believe in myself, and believe that I could go on to big things.

"I was 15 when the last Commonwealth Games were on, and I watched all the boxing. If you'd told me then I would be here today, I would have believed you, because I started to get a lot of confidence in myself."

Toussaint is competing in the featherweight division, which means she could come face to face with two-time Commonwealth silver medallist Michaela Walsh, who memorably pushed Adams to a split decision in Glasgow in 2014.

For Toussaint it is a privilege to now be embedded within a programme which yielded the first generation of women's boxers like Adams and Ireland's fellow Olympic champion Katie Taylor, who have gone on to enjoy lucrative professional careers.

"Nicola and Katie were really inspiring and what they did made sure that girls can go into boxing gyms now and not feel intimidated like I did," Toussaint added.

"It's amazing to think I'm on the same programme as them now, but I believe in myself and after the Commonwealth Games I will turn my full focus to following them by qualifying for the Olympics in Paris and Los Angeles in 2028."

READ MORE: Where are they now? Every past WBSS tournament winner, including Oleksandr Usyk and Josh Taylor

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