While decorated amateur boxers have started to join the professional ranks, Ginny Fuchs, the highest ranking American female flyweight still has her eyes on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“Right now I’m all about 2020,” Fuchs, who recently returned to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, told me in a Skype interview recently. She is training for the “Balkan” International Boxing Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria in mid-October, one of the international tournaments that amateur boxers compete in to gain more experience and eventually qualify for coveted spots in the Olympics. Fuchs fell short of a spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics and thus, continues to harbor dreams of winning an Olympic gold before going pro.
Her chances in Tokyo are looking bright. She is the number 1 ranking flyweight in the US and ranks 15th in the world. In June, she won gold in the 2017 Continental Championships in Honduras. Earlier this year, she won titles in Bulgaria and Poland, making 2017 a successful year for her. After Bulgaria, will compete in the US nationals and win in order to maintain her number 1 ranking. Tokyo is still three years away, but if this year’s performance is any indication, Fuchs stands a good chance of making it past the Olympic trials and on to the next Olympics.
Life in the Amateurs
Fuchs’ boxing career started while she was an undergraduate at Louisiana State University in 2008. What started as a cross-training regimen eventually became a passion. Her decision to take up boxing baffled her family at first. While she comes from an athletic family – her father and grandfather had been closely involved in football – her family could not imagine her fighting someone for a sport. But after watching her beat her opponent in her second fight, her mom realized that her daughter knew how to box. “Now they are excited and supportive,” Fuchs said.
In 2012, Fuchs, who has an undergraduate degree in kinesiology, earned a spot on the US national team and finished fourth in the 2012 Olympic trials. Her most memorable moment was winning the Olympic trials in 2015 in Tennesee, where she beat then world number 1 flyweight Marlen Esparza and earned a chance to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. She had lost to Esparza five times in the past in what some have said were controversial decisions. The US, however, failed to win a quota spot for her weight class in Rio, and Fuchs did not get to fight in the Olympics.
Unlike the professional ranks, the amateurs is a life of “non-stop discipline,” Fuchs noted. “There is no offseason in boxing, we are constantly competing and constantly cutting weight.” At 5’4, Fuchs says she is a “big” flyweight (112 lbs) and has to watch her diet to keep her weight. Amateur boxing competitions require boxers to weigh in before every fight during a tournament. Being an amateur boxer, she said, means “having to be always prepared” to compete.
It is also a life of constant travel and being away from home and family as national and international competitions happen year round. This year, Fuchs has only been home in Kemah, a suburb of Houston, thrice, of which her most recent visit coincided with the arrival of Hurricane Harvey.
While her immediate family was fine, Fuchs was stranded in a friend’s house west of Houston for nearly a week and helped friends recover belongings from their flooded home. “It felt good being there with family, and I also managed to help friends,” she said.
Two weeks later, she flew back to Colorado Springs to start training camp. While at the Olympic Training Center, she helps out in sports camps and is getting her master’s degree. Fuchs considers her time with Team USA an opportunity to develop herself while pursuing her Olympic dreams.
When not in Colorado, Fuchs trains in Houston at the Baby Bull Boxing Academy, owned by former WBA, WBO and IBF Lightweight champion Juan Diaz. Like many boxers, she also trains private clients for a living.
2020 and Beyond
At 29, Fuchs plans to go pro after 2020. She will be 32 by then, a “good age” to go pro, she thinks. By then she also hopes that women’s boxing will have a bigger stage and will offer better opportunities.
Fuchs believes that the entry of the graduates of the 2012 London Olympics, the first Olympics that allowed women’s boxing, has changed women’s boxing, and hopes that it generates more interest from the public.
In the last year, teammates such as Claressa Shields, Mikaela Mayer, and Marlen Esparza went pro, with Shields headlining two boxing events and winning a belt on her fourth professional fight. Similarly, European Olympic boxers such as Katie Taylor, Nicola Adams, Savannah Marshall and Natasha Jones have been signed up by large boxing promoters. These highly skilled women boxers have stoked public interest in women’s boxing and major boxing events in 2017 have featured at least one women’s bout on the undercard. Purses are still low but prospects for women boxers are brighter than ever.
When asked what would make her go pro before 2020, she hesitated, seemingly unconvinced that this would even happen. “If I get a great deal, I might consider,” she said. “I don’t think that it will happen, I think it is highly unlikely.”
For now, her focus is on Tokyo. “I want to be able to go to the Olympics. I want to win a gold.”