AMY ANDREW’S Olympic dream is over. The Haringey boxer had come to the sport late but won a place to represent New Zealand in international competition. She had been waiting for the final World qualification event, her last chance to qualify for the Tokyo Games. But the global pandemic has enforced a wholesale change on the qualification system, scrapping the last qualifier and instead having using a rankings system to allocate the places that would have been awarded there. Andrew won’t be one of the beneficiaries of that new system.
“I wouldn’t have chosen for it to finish like it did,” Amy said. “I was disappointed in that and it kind of felt like a bit of a sad way to finish.”
Andrew started boxing initially for fitness but made rapid progress. “I absolutely loved boxing from the start, couldn’t get enough of it. It wasn’t even that I thought to compete, I did white collar and stuff but I just enjoyed that training process, working toward something all the time. Plus the hitting part is really fun,” she said.
That brought her to the Haringey boxing club. “I think they really understand people and really facilitate everybody in their own journey. Terri [Kelly], Brian [John], Gerry [Willmott], they all worked with Nicola [Adams], straight away they were one of the clubs at the forefront of women’s boxing. For them it doesn’t matter how old you are, whether you’re a girl, whether you’re a boy, how good you are, if you just do it and you really enjoy doing. They really facilitate your journey and finding the right fights. Terri works tirelessly to make sure that there are female competitions, getting that experience and getting the sparring,” Andrew said. “It gives you that encouragement as well.
“Haringey’s had an impact on my love for the sport. They make you enjoy it.”
The idea to box for New Zealand came later, when she thought she’d get more international opportunities. “I got asked to box for England,” she said. “It made me realise [that] I really could make it in the sport, I had to think about my options.”
“It is really tough. The pool [in New Zealand] is much smaller but the girls are really, really tough, especially at my weight. It was really tricky and I worked for a couple of years to get where I was. I did loads of qualifying competitions,” Andrew continued. “I’ve a massive family there and they were all proud.”
She boxed for them in the World championships and was training in an international camp for the regional qualification event at the start of 2020. That was meant to take place in Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, in February, just as the crisis was beginning. That qualifier was moved to Jordan that March. “We came back from potentially going to Wuhan. We went out to Italy to do a camp there, I got really sick there so I didn’t actually do the camp and that was two weeks leading up to Jordan,” she said. “We went to Italy and that was when it [Covid] really hit there as well. It might have been [Covid that she got sick with], it might not have been but I was definitely around a lot of Covid stuff.”
It affected her even doing pads. “So I was hoping to get another opportunity to at least show what I can do,” she reflected. “The whole experience of being in that Olympic qualifier was beyond my dreams. But I didn’t perform.”
“Because my career in boxing has been relatively short, sometimes you think to yourself should I be here or maybe all these people have something. But when you go and you watch them, everyone’s really good but I can see myself beating some of them or definitely being on a level with the top girls in the world. That was a real confidence boost for me,” she said. “I was just getting into my stride and I loved having that experience so I can definitely take that with me.”
She will look to turn professional next. She has already beaten some potential future rivals, like Shannon Courtenay who is even boxing for a world title this weekend. “I think there’s loads of opportunities for really exciting fights that can engage people,” Andrew said. “It is exciting times because there are opportunities to get to the top quite quickly.”