The newly crowned IBF World Champion, professional boxer Sarah Mahfoud is a powerhouse to be reckoned with. We have asked her about her life, her explosively successful boxing career and other passions.
How and when did your passion for boxing start?
My passion for boxing started when I was 14 years old. My father always liked martial arts and did Kung Fu and Thai boxing when he was younger, so I think it affected me. I grew up watching all the best movies of Bruce Lee and other fight sport movies. I liked the intense workouts and that you had to be so dedicated to do well. It's an all or nothing game.
What does your new title as World Champion mean for your future career?
My new title means so much. It means that I can get bigger fights and maybe a bigger pay. If I lost the fight, I wouldn't have the same options and it would be difficult to meet some of the other female fighters in the top of the rankings. You can't afford to lose; it would be too big a step backwards. Now I am just waiting to hear what’s next and enjoying my new title.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started out as professional athlete?
Not much actually. I think that I have taken all the opportunities I was given, and I have tried to make the best of it. I am satisfied with how things are and have been, and I am still learning more all the time. I just appreciate where I am and the choices I have made to get here. Maybe my only advice would be "remember to enjoy the journey".
Are you met with certain stereotypes or prejudices, and if so, how do you handle that?
When I tell people that I am a boxer they find it hard of believe, but I take that as a compliment because I know people have a picture in their head that a female boxer looks like a man and have a tough attitude. They always advise me to take care of "my pretty face" and it's a good icebreaker because people are impressed, and they have a lot of questions.
How do you balance your work life with your private?
I think I'm good at balancing my work and private life. I have a family and a lot of friends that support me. Of course, I have a busy week when I am training up to a fight, but I try to prioritize to see my family and friends as often as I can. I'm also studying to be a nurse, so I have a schedule that controls my life and that I swear to, but I always remember to give myself some me-time because I know that I need it.
How do you relate to your passion and work during the current COVID-19 crisis?
The boxing is on stand-by for now. Unfortunately, there is not much else to do in these times, and the most important is just for us all to emerge on the other side of this safely. I, of course, hope that we will see a turning point soon, and that people are doing what they can to keep healthy, and not lose all they own on this unfortunate situation. I keep myself busy with outdoor training and running, but it will be a while before there will be another boxing match. I have volunteered for the Vikarkorps (Relief Corps) at Bispebjerg Hospital as student nurse and will doing shifts there so that I can lend a hand. I hope for the best, and that the healthcare services will not be overburdened, but I will be there and will do my part. As soon as this is over, boxing will get my full attention once again, but for now there unfortunately is not much else to do than wait and just care for yourself and others.
Is there anything else that you’re also passionate about at the moment?
I like yoga especially hot yoga; it's my me-time. I think it's a good contrast to the very intense boxing work out. At the moment, I am trying to work more on myself and making some new healthy routines. I am reading and listening to a lot of books and trying to find out what I want in life and how I am going to get there, so I can keep my focus and motivation. Every dream needs a plan.
Passion; also known as dedication, as hunger, it is the desire to destroy oneself for one’s art. To tear down, move, or start over in order to rebuild and expand. The feeling of not being able to let go. It is a human condition that most are bound by.
Even though we are JUST human, JUST women, JUST female, we all have that drive that makes us ‘more than’. It is what makes us-, our stories-, and our creations unique. From a job, to a child, to a hobby gone wild, we, and you, are more than JUST female. We have gathered some of the most inspiring Danish women that we know for a talk about passion, creativity, and the balance between worklife and homelife.
Let their inspiring stories, trials and errors be a reminder that we all can struggle, we can fail, but something will always have us return to that same place of passion. And maybe the point is not necessarily to succeed, but to have given it your all, and grown in the process.