On The RISE: Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas - Professional Boxer

Tell us a bit about you -- your story, how you are “on the RISE”

I am a boxer.

I began my athletic journey at a young age. My father always pushed me to be active. I was involved in sports for as long as I remember. Whenever anyone would ask me “what do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer was always “a professional athlete.” However, I never knew the exact sport. I have tried just about every sport. Soccer, basketball, track, lacrosse, rugby, rock climbing, skiing, dance, the list goes on. I began my martial arts journey with kickboxing. I walked into a gym and knew I wanted to compete. My first coach had never trained a female before me and I had to convince him to train me. Eventually, I realized that boxing was my favorite form of martial arts. And now, I am finally about to realize my dream of becoming a professional athlete. I had an upcoming professional debut set for May 8th, however, that will be postponed given the current situation in the world.

Tell us about some of your earlier challenges

Being a female in a male-dominated sport has not been easy. There has been a huge influx of females in combat sports within the past few years. In 2012, women were included in the summer Olympics for boxing and Ronda Rousey became the first female signed by the UFC. After that year, it seems there has been an exponential increase in women competing in combat sports. I believe that boxing becoming a “trendy” workout has actually helped combat sports become more widely accepted for females. I have noticed huge changes from when I first began. I used to have difficulty finding fights. I was only able to really train with men. A lot of comments would be made. “Don’t you worry about your face?” These comments would come from men doing the same sport that I was. “You hit hard for a girl.” This got better over time. I also was able to prove myself with my skill. I am happy when I see more and more females participating in these sports and larger audiences for female bouts.

What has surprised you most about your work?

Boxing has made me very humble. A fight is a very genuine experience. The school you went to, how much money you make, who you know. None of that matters and none of that will help you during a fight. Boxing doesn’t care about where you came from. I have met homeless people who box and I have met people worth millions who box. I have met people from all over the world, from different cultures and backgrounds. Boxing has taught me so much about myself and about life.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

I love learning. I am about to graduate with a masters in sports science and I plan on continuing to receive my PhD. I really enjoy science!!

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