For most boxers across the globe, the Covid-19 Pandemic allowed them time to rest and recover. Embarking on domestic holidays with loved ones or perhaps exploring other avenues to grow their profiles, such as appearing on podcasts or creating YouTube channels, helped pass the time.
The last six months have been a gift and a curse. Boxing was their life and now they had free time on their hands. But for reigning WBO super-bantamweight champion Dina Thorslund (14-0, 6 KOs) the cancellation of professional combat sports only allowed her the time to maintain normality.
Her schedule is always busy and, ahead of the third defence of her title, the Danish champion told Boxing Social her work is never done.
“I don’t really watch boxing at all when I’m not fighting, or follow things about boxing,” she said. “It’s usually my trainer who tells me any new stuff and keeps me up to date with anything that’s going on. It’s just because I’m so busy, as well. I have my son – he is six – and we have two dogs, and a private life and our house. So, there’s been many things for me [to balance].
“I work as a therapist in a special kindergarten with disabled children,” Dina continued. “I started my internship there just over two years ago. After the Coronavirus lockdown we had here, I took a break, so I could focus on things for my son and get a lot of other things organised. It meant there was generally more calm at home. And now, as a result, I’ve been focused on my training.”
Ahead of her bout with Nina Radovanovic on September 26, the Team Sauerland-managed fighter has been focusing on her own performances, rather than spending time researching her latest challenger. Radovanovic, hailing from Serbia, is taking a gamble, stepping up from a loss at flyweight to challenge for world honours at super-bantam.
It’s a stark reminder of women’s boxing’s shallow pool of talent, despite a massive shift in its popularity. But Thorslund is taking her preparation seriously nonetheless, explaining, “Maybe I’ve watched a few minutes of her fighting at the most. My trainer sent me a link. But I know that she has moved up in weight too fast, and I don’t think that’s a good choice by her, but that’s her business.
“I know she’s boxing both amateur and professional. Her style is like that – you can tell. And I don’t think it will be to her benefit of it. Our training is usually pretty much the same. We always try to find sparring partners who resemble my opponent in height and style. So I have been sparring with smaller people this time than I’m used to, but she’s coming to fight – I know that.”
Thorslund, 26, has benefited from Scandinavia’s love for women’s boxing.
It wasn’t something she’d planned, however, when growing up in the nation’s capital of Copenhagen with typically inquisitive friends. Introduced to the sport when accompanying a friend to the gym for moral support, it didn’t feel intimidating being crowded by hulking men inflicting damage on swinging lumps of leather.
The smell and the sounds experienced during that first visit to the gym felt comfortable. Dina was at ease then, just as she is now making the walk to the ring and fighting for major titles. Her friend didn’t quite feel the same, deciding promptly that a life of blood, sweat and tears wasn’t what she’d had in mind.
“I was good at it and I love to win. So yeah, I just kept going. She’s very feminine, very girly. So she has her own clothing shop now. Let’s say we went our own, different directions,” laughed the former WBC interim champion.
“I felt okay with my initial visit to the gym. I remember the thing I thought about most was, ‘How do these people see me?’ One of the trainers, when all the others were stretching out, he took me away and I had to go and work on how I was standing, and how I was walking. I thought, ‘Oh, they think I look silly,’ because I just hate being bad at something. “
It wasn’t ever about taking that precautionary step through the door of the boxing gym, though. From an early stage, Thorslund knew she wanted to test herself. She told Boxing Social, “I never went to boxing only for the training – I knew that then. I went because I wanted to fight. So right away I knew, ‘Okay, I can do this’, and then I just had to keep training to improve.”
Her focus right now is primarily Nina Radovanovic. Fighting once again in her adopted hometown of Struer, on Denmark’s west coast, Thorslund knew that bigger fights could be waiting.
Potential unification bouts with fellow belt-holders are a priority, but the Danish world champion is calm and understanding. Currently without a powerful promoter, despite being managed and well looked after by Team Sauerland, the biggest fights aren’t a sure thing.
That’s boxing at any level, for either gender.
Thorslund told Boxing Social her son had started strapping on some oversized gloves, playfully hitting the bag when watching his mum at work, learning from the best. It was unusual asking a mother if she wanted her son to fight and hearing such an excited, positive response. Passing on the valuable skills she had learned herself, Thorslund knew that life was bigger than boxing.
“Sometimes he says, ‘I’m not going to be a boxer.’ I tell him all the time, ‘No, no, it’s fine. You can do whatever you want to do’’. If someone asked him right now, he’d probably say, ‘No, I’m not [going to fight]’ but he has plenty of time to change his mind.
“I think sometimes in the past I’ve said I’ll keep fighting for one or two years more. But I have maybe said that a couple of times now. I actually truly believe maybe a maximum of two more years. Then I think I’m done. My everyday life, besides boxing, is taking up a lot of time. I think I can be proud of what I have achieved for now. But still think that I could do more.”
All images: Sauerland Promotion.