Thunder Bay·Up North

Ojibway Olympic boxer inspires Thunder Bay students to keep fighting

A Canadian Olympian, and PanAm gold medallist shared her story of perseverance and determination at Confederation College in Thunder Bay on Wednesday.

Canadian Olympian and PanAm gold medallist Mary Spencer spoke to students at Confederation College

Mary Spencer is a six-time Canadian champion, four-time Pan-American champion and two-time World champion in boxing. She became the first female Aboriginal boxer to compete in the Olympics, in 2012. (Cathy Alex)
Canadian boxer Mary Spencer is headed back to the ring this summer at the PanAm Games in Toronto, and her sights are firmly set on the 2016 Olympics. 6:18
A Canadian Olympian, and Pan Am gold medallist shared her story of perseverance and determination at Confederation College in Thunder Bay on Wednesday.

Mary Spencer is originally from the Cape Croker First Nation in southern Ontario.

She grew up playing basketball in Windsor, but switched to boxing when she was a teenager.

Spencer said she was thrilled by the fact it's an individual sport.

"Because everything is on you. Everything. You can't make excuses... Really, it comes down to you. What you do, the decisions you make," she said.

Spencer said boxing has taught her many lessons, which she puts to work both in and out of the ring.

"In the midst of a failure, being able to look at that, find some good in it, find something to learn about it and be positive in the situation and stay positive, stay focused and keep working hard," she said.

Spencer remembered one match where she felt she was losing badly heading into the final round.

She said she was exhausted, and didn't see how she could possibly win.

"But you always have to think that there is a way things can turn out better," Spencer said. "Even when it seems it's not going to work out."

So, Spencer decided to give the final round her best shot anyway.

"I actually ended up winning that fight, 17 to 14. I'll never forget it because it was shocking to me, but there's always some things you don't even know that they're going on and you really have to persevere," she said.

"You really have to push through when it doesn't look like there's light at the end of the tunnel and you'd be surprised," Spencer added.

One of the toughest losses of Spencer's career came at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She lost her bout by 3 points, which knocked her out of the gold medal fight.

She will be competing at the Pan Am Games in Toronto this summer. 

After that, Spence said she's hoping her perseverance takes her on to win a medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro

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