Women’s World Boxing Championships: Referee Jennifer Huggins’s tryst with ‘magic’
TNN | Nov 20, 2018, 09.57 PM IST
NEW DELHI: When India’s Manisha Maun got into the ring to face Bulgarian Stoyka Petrova in their bantamweight bout, there was another familiar face in the ring and it was AIBA’s 3-star referee Jennifer Huggins from Canada. There is however so much more to Jennifer, especially her life away from the ring.
Boxing happened by chance for this Toronto-resident, who was a successful figure skater growing up. “I started boxing after a career in figure skating was cut short due to a neck injury. I ended up using boxing as a rehabilitative method and fell in love with the sport. I competed at local level but realised quickly that I also needed to coach to continue my training. I ended up opening my own gym — Kingsway Boxing Club in Western Toronto — at the age of 21. Luckily my business kicked off and I ended up opening gyms in two locations,” Jennifer told TOI, on the sidelines of the 10th AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships.
But before she became a boxing referee, she had an interesting tryst with magician Richard Forget from Canada, travelling around the world as his assistant.
“There is a part of figure skating which has an artistic side, which I missed in boxing. When I was 20 years old, a magician called Richard Forget found me, who needed me to do a tour with him. I am a dancer and I also loved magic, so I agreed. In 2004, I started working with Richard and travelled over 15 different countries with him,” the 34-year-old AIBA judge said.
I asked what prompted her to make foray into refereeing, she said, “I missed being in the ring and missed the action as a coach. Soon after opening my gym I met Sonny Wong, who is also here as the ITO, he told me that they needed more referees and judges. I told him, ‘I don’t like them so much’! However, I am very competitive person, so naturally I wanted to be the best referee. I have continued to work my way up from 2009 and that’s how I am here.”
Partnering with Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation in 2011, Jennifer also founded the Fight To End Cancer (FTEC) annual charity event. FTEC invites CEOs, executives and other leading corporate heads to step into the boxing ring, most of them for the first time. After six months of intense training, the contenders go head-to-head in Olympic-style boxing bouts at the charity’s annual black-tie gala.
“It’s really incredible to see transformation of women’s boxing. I have watched it from being just a novelty to something people cheer about. People can recognise people like Mary Kom because of boxing, which is really great,” Jennifer said about the rise in popularity of women’s boxing.