About a year ago, 11-time national boxing champion Mandy Bujold had to find a new coach and place to train and Guelph’s TNT Boxing and Fitness Academy just seemed like the right fit.
“Coming to Guelph, the big decision for me was after my coach Adrian Teodorescu passed away (in November, 2016), I needed a new coach and I needed a good training partner,” the 30-year-old said as she sat on the edge of the ring in the club’s new facility on Dawson Road.
“Coming here to work with Stevie Bailey and Sara (Haghighat-joo) was a big reason for me to be here. Stevie’s a great coach and having him so close to home was a bonus. Me and Sara had always been sparring partners and trained together. I just thought that if I had someone right here that we could train all the time together, we could both kind of help each other get to that next level and that’s just exactly what’s been happening. It’s been great.”
Bujold, a Cobourg native who grew up and still resides in Kitchener, has held the Canadian amateur flyweight women’s championship title since 2007.
In 2016, Bujold attained a goal of competing in the Olympics in Brazil, but it was a bittersweet feeling. She won her first-round bout easily, but was eliminated in the quarter-finals. She had fallen ill the day before that bout and spent the night in hospital, losing five pounds.
“It’s tough and I’m not going to lie,” she said. “It’s still something I think about every day. I think about the fact that I know what I was capable of achieving and not having that opportunity to do so. It’s something that I definitely think about often, but it’s also something that I do look back upon and I do have to appreciate the journey of getting there. I think that was the hardest part of it was getting to the Olympics and then you put so much pressure on that one moment, that one event, that one day and the things that happened to me were out of my control.
“I still went in there and I gave 100 per cent and I had a good attitude about it. It was the way I was able to handle the situation that was thrown at me that I was most proud of. The rest was out of my control and it really does suck, but to be honest, it is what it is and that’s my Olympic story to tell.”
Now Bujold is preparing for the April’s Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, Australia. She won bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
“Commonwealth Games coming up, for me to be prepared going into Commonwealth I will have to have a few club show bouts just to sharpen up my skills. I haven’t fought in the last little bit. It’s just going to be in the gym training a regular schedule again and then get a few tune-up fights before the Commonwealth Games happen.”
Bujold has had success at a major games as she’s a two-time gold medalist in the Pan American Games. She stood on the top step of the podium in both Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2011 and Toronto in 2015.
“That was definitely one of the highlights in my career,” Bujold said. “The Pan Am Games were special to me because that was the first time women’s boxing was ever in a major games in 2011 and to be able to have the next one in Toronto, it’s not too often you actually get to compete in a major games on home soil and so close to home. It was amazing to have my friends and family there and even just to be able to talk to my mom and dad on a regular basis and to be able to have them in the arena with me was very different for me and even for them. They were kind of surprised at all the things I have to do and go through and just to be able to see it gave them a whole new perspective.”
And her dream of Olympic success remains alive as she intends to compete at Tokyo.
“2020 is definitely still a goal for me. The path that I go about to get there might be a little different, but it’s still definitely something that I see in the future.”