We caught up with boxing legend Natasha Jonas, who tells us all about her journey so far before sharing her top training, nutrition and kit tips…
Unified boxing champion Natasha Jonas became Great Britain’s first ever female Olympic boxer in 2012, and has won 13 of her 16 fights since turning professional in 2017. In 2022, she claimed three world titles in nine months, adding the IBF light-middleweight title to her WBC super-welterweight and WBO junior-middleweight belts. Here, she shares her journey so far, along with what her typical training week looks like…
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Natasha Jonas on her journey so far
Natasha Jonas: ‘As a teen, I had my sights set on becoming a professional footballer. I worked hard and won a football scholarship in the US, but I picked up a knee injury while I was there and that was the end of my footy career! I came home and had a year out of sport, but because sport was my motivation to do anything, I put on weight, lost my confidence, lost friends, lost direction and went from job to job.
‘Something had to change, so when my knee brace came off, I went to my uncle’s karate gym to get fit. A lady living opposite the gym kept telling me I should try boxing, but I wasn’t keen and fobbed her off for so long that it got embarrassing. In the end, I went to the Rotunda ABC boxing gym in Liverpool just to shut her up. That was 17 years ago, and I haven’t looked back since.
‘In 2015, I gave birth to my daughter and retired from amateur boxing at the age of 30. But when fellow boxer Katie Taylor turned pro in 2016, people asked if I’d come back. With the support of my family, I turned pro in 2017, but I had an unexpected defeat. People said I wasn’t as good as I used to be, and that I was getting old. I questioned myself and wondered whether I’d lost it, but I decided to keep going because there were still so many things I wanted to achieve. Last year was a brilliant year for me. I’m 38 now and believe you’re never too old for anything.’
What strength and conditioning training do you do?
Natasha Jonas: ‘I always train as if I’ve got a fight coming up because my only job is to stay fit. Every morning, I do the school run and walk the dog, before doing boxing from 10.30am til around 1pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Afterwards, I’ll pick up my daughter, do whatever activities she’s got to do, and then go running. Strength and conditioning happens on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, followed by some form of low-impact exercise such as cycling or swimming. Sparring days are the best for me.
‘As a pro, I always know who I’ll be fighting, so my team will design a 10-week camp around beating that one person, and my boxing coach will get boxers in to replicate my opponent’s style. Boxing sessions involve skipping, shadow boxing, hitting bags, pad work and some form of circuit at the end, such as 20 reps of five different ab exercises, repeated for 10 rounds to complete 1,000 reps, followed by chin-ups, dips and press-ups. My strength and conditioning sessions feature a lot of functional boxing-specific exercises that involve transferring weight, so there’s a lot of work with medicine balls for explosive power.’
Tell us about your approach to nutrition.
Natasha Jonas: ‘I need to maintain my weight, so I eat more carbohydrates on my boxing days when I’m going to be using that fuel, and more protein on my strength and conditioning days. At the start of every camp, I use a service called The Edge by Dr Scott Robinson, where he takes my bloods, my VO2, and measures how many calories I burn at rest. He then does the science and comes back to me with a plan and lots of meals for me to cook, although I now have a food delivery company to prepare it all for me.
‘As a mum, I have to rush to get my stuff done because my daughter has karate, swimming, tennis, gymnastics and dance after school throughout the week, so having it all done for me makes a massive difference. I make my own cereal, though – Lord forbid I get the porridge wrong!’
How has your mindset changed over the years?
Natasha Jonas: ‘Before I had my daughter, I used to find it hard to switch off from boxing. I’d have a bad spar and it would wreck my week! Now I’ve got her, I switch off as soon as I get home because she doesn’t care about my spar, she just wants me to be mum, so I have a lot more balance now, even though there’s more to juggle. Having a sports psychologist also helps me to cope with all the stress and pressure that happens behind the scenes.
‘I’ve met so many boxers who were better than I was, but they were missing that focus and drive. The best boxers are the ones who are committed to it for life, because it is a lifestyle and it’s hard. It’s the mindset that sets you apart, not the skillset.’
What’s in your vital kit bag?
Natasha Jonas: ‘I’ve been working with Everlast for two years, who support me with kit such as my head and groin guards, gum shield, skipping rope, resistance bands and my favourite Everlast Powerlock Training Gloves (£33.99; sportsdirect.com). A good playlist is also key for getting my head in the game.’
Tell us about your greatest achievement.
Natasha Jonas: ‘The best title I’ve got is “Mum”, but winning my first world title as a pro was phenomenal. Qualifying for the Olympic games was also special because I told my mum when I was four years old that I was going to be an Olympian. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, and it took me 24 years to do it, but my mum cried her eyes out when I qualified because she couldn’t believe I made my dream come true. In terms of the future, I just want to carry on regardless. The biggest thing I learnt from the last year is not to listen to any outside noise. I just do what I want to do.’
Natasha Jonas is an ambassador for Everlast. Shop its latest boxing equipment at sportsdirect.com/everlast
Words: Joanna Ebsworth | Photography: Everlast