Canadian boxer Mandy Bujold is back on the road towards Olympic gold in Tokyo.
The 32 year-old 11-time national champion’s 2016 Olympic dreams of gold were dashed on a dreadful night in Rio, when she became ill before her quarterfinal bout. With the disappointing fifth-place 51 kg finish firmly behind her, Bujold successfully made the 2020 team at the recent National Qualifiers in Montreal and will be looking to book her Olympic spot at the continental qualifiers in March.
Crossfire boxing columnist and Boxing Ontario coach Noel Clubb spoke to Bujold, who is currently preparing for the Continental Qualifiers, via email.
Editor’s Note: This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. Also, months after this conversation, it was announced that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games were postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
MMA Crossfire: Who is your biggest opponent right now? Is there someone you are gunning for on the road to Tokyo?
Mandy Bujold: My biggest opponent is always my next opponent. Right now I am looking forward to the continental qualifier in March where I will face the best in my division to secure my spot in Tokyo.
MMA Crossfire: What are your thoughts on training with Syd Vanderpool? What does he provide you?
Mandy Bujold: I really enjoy training with Syd. I’m usually a pretty serious person when I train, but Syd finds ways to make sure we are always having fun in the gym. He challenges me on the regular and that is something I need to continue to improve. I’ve known Syd for my entire career, but we have never worked this closely and I think the timing is perfect. He is bringing the best out in me and it’s showing in my performance in the ring.
MMA Crossfire: What do you miss the most about Atlas Boxing Club trainer Adrian Teodorescu?
Mandy Bujold: I miss a lot about Adrian. His stories, his knowledge, and his passion for the sport. I am very fortunate to have spent the time with him that I did and I will treasure that forever.
MMA Crossfire: What are your favourite boxing memories?
Mandy Bujold: A lot of my favourite memories are from early on in my career. One memory that stands out was representing Canada at the first major games, the Pan American Games, to include women’s boxing. I boxed in the very first bout to take place between two women when I fought Mexico in my opening bout. It was a groundbreaking moment for women and it was an honour to be a part of. My career has been full of great memories, so it’s hard to choose just one.
MMA Crossfire: What is your greatest fear?
Mandy Bujold: My greatest fear would be injury. I’ve been very lucky throughout my career to avoid major injuries and I hope I am able to do so for the remainder of my career.
MMA Crossfire: A lot of Canadians will be rooting for you to bring home the gold medal. What are your post-Olympic plans?
Mandy Bujold: Thank you. My plans post-Olympics would be to go back to working on some of the projects I’ve put on hold due to my training. Specifically, my Team Bujold High Performance Mentorship camps and Champions for Charity. I have always enjoyed working with the next generation and sharing the sport of boxing with new audiences and I am always looking for new opportunities to do so.
MMA Crossfire: What are your thoughts on females in boxing today in Ontario and in Canada, where and how we can improve, to bring more females into the sport?
Mandy Bujold: Female boxing in Canada and specifically in Ontario seems to change year to year. There is definitely an increase of women in the gym for recreation, but it doesn’t seem like many are taking the next step to competition. I thought that once women’s boxing became an Olympic sport, we would see a huge increase, but it has been more gradual then I expected. I think there is still a lot that we can do to promote women’s boxing. I also wish I had the answer on exactly how we need to do that, unfortunately I don’t. I guess a good place to start would be to encourage gyms and coaches across Canada to be creative with their programming and advertising to include women more often. Another way would be to encourage other female boxers to share their journey as often as possible with the next generation of athletes in hopes to spark interest in the sport.
Mandy Bujold: I think school programs and advertising will get them to the gym, but keeping them there requires good coaching and a plan. Try to find out from your members what attracted them to the gym in the first place and that would be a good place to start and continue to grow from there.
MMA Crossfire: Who will be the Olympic Canadian boxing team captain will be for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?
Mandy Bujold: To be honest, I don’t think Boxing Canada usually names a captain, but if they do I would be honoured to be named. As one of the more experienced athletes on the team, I would be honoured to lead the team and share my experiences with them.
MMA Crossfire: How critical is it for the team to do well in Tokyo?
Mandy Bujold: I think the team’s performance is very critical. We haven’t seen a medal in many years and I think we need a breakthrough in 2020.
MMA Crossfire: It’s been almost 32 years since Canada had one of its most successful squads with Lennox Lewis, Egerton Marcus, etc. What do you remember about that 1988 team?
Mandy Bujold: Training with Adrian and having the opportunity to get to know Lennox and Egerton over the years, I can say that I’ve heard many stories. It would have been exciting to be a part of boxing in that era.
MMA Crossfire: Thanks Mandy and best of luck at the continental qualifiers in March.
Mandy Bujold: Thank you Noel. My pleasure.