The Canadian boxer has been undefeated since 2021 and is now eyeing the gold medal in Paris.
Concordia alumna Tammara Thibeault recently won the women’s boxing middleweight gold medal at the 2023 Santiago Pan American Games.
Today, all her attention is geared towards the only competition she has yet to win at the amateur level: the Olympic Games.
Growing up, Tammara Thibeault’s father was a wide receiver for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. During the offseason, he boxed to stay in shape. Thibeault’s passion for the sport started at nine years old when visiting the boxing gym with her father. “On Fridays, we would go together, my three siblings and I, and then eventually I just got hooked on to the sport,” she recalled.
In 2012, women’s boxing became an Olympic sport. By then, Thibeault had already been boxing for a few years. She remembers looking up to Mary Spencer at the time, the first Canadian woman to box at the Olympics in her weight class.
Seeing Spencer, a young Canadian woman at the Olympics, inspired Thibault to chase her own dream of becoming an Olympic champion.
Balancing school and boxing
Following her 2017 Canadian Championship win, Thibeault joined the Canadian national team. From there, success quickly followed, with multiple medals at international competitions.
Around the same time, she started attending Concordia University, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in urban studies in 2023.
Being a university student and an elite international athlete simultaneously was not easy. There was “a lot of running around, a lot of tiresome days, but I managed to make it work,” Thibeault said.
After next year’s Olympics, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in urban studies, a field she wants to work in after her career in boxing.
First Olympic experience and gold medal galore
Thibeault qualified for what was originally the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. However, the yearlong postponement of the event was a stressful experience for her. “The fact that the Olympics got postponed for a year was kind of crazy,” she said. Since her loss in the quarter-finals in Tokyo, the southpaw fighter is undefeated, a streak of over two years.
In 2022, she won her first world title at the International Boxing Association Women’s World Boxing Championships. Since the Olympics, she has also won the 2022 Commonwealth Games and two continental championships.
Thibeault then headed into the 2023 Pan American Games this October with two goals: qualifying for the Olympics and winning the gold medal. She did both, winning every fight by either the referee stopping the contest or by unanimous decision.
After taking some time off to relax and attend graduation, Thibeault will start her preparation for the Olympics next summer in Paris. Although she is ranked number one in the world in her weight category and is arguably the favourite to win the gold medal, she tries not to put too much pressure on her shoulders regarding expectations.
“I’m definitely on top of the game right now, but I try not to think about [being ranked number one in the world] because I don’t want it to impact my performances. I try to take everything one step at a time and just, like, really focus on what I can control,” Thibeault expressed.
After the Olympics, Thibeault plans to turn professional. The two main differences between the amateur and professional levels are that amateur boxing is competed in a knockout tournament format, while professional boxing consists of longer single fights.
“I think women’s boxing is growing and the level of opposition is growing, which is really interesting because you have women like me who have big amateur backgrounds that jump into the professional sport,” she said. “I think people are starting to appreciate women’s boxing more, which is really nice.”