Last week in Lévis, the 38 year old boxer beat Mayssoun Tadlaoui by unanimous decision to win the Golden Gloves in the 64 kg category. "It was a hard fight," admitted the champion. "My opponent kept on advancing all the time. I threw a lot of lefts and even when I felt that I had hurt her, she kept advancing."
It was in January 2015 that the customs agent and single parent of two boys started fighting. After nine fights under the aegis of Francis Lafrenière, Neal joined the ranks of Boxe Montréal.com. She then trained under Carl Handy and Danielle Bouchard, pioneer of women's boxing in Quebec.
"There's a really good team that trains at the Centre Claude-Robillard," she remarked. "I train five times a week, I work 12 hour shifts, I have two children and I'm a single parent. That takes discipline. Boxing is such a complicated sport. You can't play at boxing."
Boxing allows her to convey the message of a healthy lifestyle to her children, both of whom are hockey players. When she goes to pick her boys up at school, her muscles attract attention.
Jennifer Neal trains in Montreal. She is not known as a boxer in her community. "People who see me running every day in Huntingdon, say hi at the grocery store," she says. "When I tell them that I box, they're surprised. Some have asked me to give a course in fitness boxing and I hope to be able to get a trainer's certificate. I'd like to keep boxing in my life forever."
The Golden Gloves Champion is motivated by the challenge of her sport; always working harder to improve. "Boxers are often passionate about life," she emphasized. "We experience a lot of emotion; one day we're laughing, the next we're crying. Not everyone is suited to the ring. Whatever I do, I aim to be a better person and boxing helps me in this way."
National or professional team
The Huntingdon resident is at a cross roads. She wishes she had found boxing sooner. Time is against Jennifer Neal, but she still has good options.
"I want to go as far as possible," she said. "I'm participating in Défi des champions next February and I'm aiming for a place on the national team. If I secure a place, I'll have to see if I'm in a position to represent Canada for competitions abroad because of work and my children."
If she has to give up the National Team, Jennifer Neal will make the move to turn professional. Her trainers judge that she is ready for this option.
On October 28, during her next match in Montréal, she will meet with a very experienced boxer from Toronto. A confrontation she sees as a good, stimulating challenge.
Jennifer Neal's record
17 matches– 16 wins – 1 loss (split decision)
Coupe Imperium Champion
Bronze Gloves Champion
Brampton Cup Champion
Golden Gloves Champion
Translated by Cathleen Johnston