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Back in the ring: Konikow once again donning the gloves

By: Scott Haddow – Straight Up Sports

 | Apr 23, 2014 - 12:24 PM |
Amber Konikow stepped back in the ring last month. After a two-year hiatus, the former world bronze medallist says, at 39, she still has lots of fight in her. Photo by Scott Haddow

Amber Konikow stepped back in the ring last month. After a two-year hiatus, the former world bronze medallist says, at 39, she still has lots of fight in her. Photo by Scott Haddow

In her first competitive boxing bout in two years and five months in March, Amber Konikow took shots to the back of her head, shoulders and one in the groin.

“I missed it,” she said.

Konikow, 39, is back boxing full-time. A former world bronze-medal winner, she has multiple gold medals from provincial and national championship events. She has faced competition from all over the world. Her list of accomplishments in the ring is long, but she wants to make it even longer.


Konikow took a step back from competitive boxing after 11 years in the sport. At the time, the international age limit restriction for female competitors was 34. Konikow couldn’t go to another world championship, but she doesn’t hesitate to say she needed the break, both mentally and physically.

Her idea of taking it easy and recharging her soul was to train and compete in ultra marathons. This is how she has tested herself and kept in top shape for nearly two-and-a-half years. Konikow ran in national and international races, including a gruelling 250-kilometre event in Iceland in 2013.

Last year, the age limit for international boxing went up to 40.

Konikow’s first love in sports was boxing and always will be. It changed her life for the good when she took it up as a way to stay in shape when she was 26. It turned her into a person with desire to be better every day, giving her purpose and earning her respect.

With the age limit increased, Konikow stepped back into the ring. She had left the sport still wanting to do more and this was her chance. She wasn’t going to pass it up.

In January, Konikow made the decision to commit full time and get back in the ring.

“I wanted to compete again,” the 39-year-old said. “I wasn’t done with boxing. I never wanted it to be over (and) I have this chance to see what I can do.”

Before competing at the Silver Gloves event in Toronto in March, Konikow’s last competitive bout was in October 2011.

In her return fight, she went four rounds with a competitor who was 23. Konikow lost by decision. Despite her extensive experience in the sport, the match was a learning experience. She admits she wasn’t at her best.

Having gone through minor surgery in February and battling an ear infection that hindered her training, her performance was a little sluggish.

But Konikow will take the lessons she learned and apply them to her next fight at the Golden Gloves tournament in Mississauga in May, an event which is also the provincial championships this year.

“My first fight, I never once felt outclassed or (that) my skills were below the standards,” Konikow said. “I have to get used to the new scoring system because I am used to the old point system. I have to work on being more busy and aggressive. I am a technical fighter and I will not lose that.

"It felt great to be back in the ring and boxing. I will be better my next fight. I will be ready. I will make it happen.”

Konikow is busting her hump at Top Glove Boxing Academy. It’s been her home away from home since she joined the sport. Konikow is always a welcomed presence in the gym.

“Amber is a role model for all the boxers because she has accomplished a lot,” assistant coach Greg Brown said. “It is her attitude that sets her apart. Amber has overcome a lot and is always positive. Her persistence in life and sport is exemplary. She has a big heart and is caring and encouraging to younger boxers.”

Brown sees no issues with Konikow adapting to a different scoring system or going toe-to-toe with the best in the province, and country, again.

“She is adapting to the new system,” Brown said. “It will come along. Amber always gives her all and listens. She is training hard and will not stop until she gets what she wants.

“In the March bout, she did what she was taught. I didn’t see any rust. It will only get better. She can takes this to wherever she wants to take it.”

Konikow also plans on competing in more ultra marathons. She has signed up for the Grand To Grand Ultra event in Utah in September — a 273-kilometre adventure through hell.

Konikow will also go as far in boxing as she can. She has been to the world championships and fought the best on the planet. For now, and into the future, Konikow will enjoy what boxing has always given her.

“I love being around other boxers,” she said. “I get to help young fighters as a mentor and help them go after their dreams. It’s an amazing feeling to have. I get to give back to the sport.”

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