It’s a subject that’s been too painful to properly address up until now, but Chantelle Cameron (12-0, 7KOs) has finally opened up on her Olympic anguish. The Northampton fighter was a long-time star of the Team GB set-up but was controversially overlooked for the 2016 Rio Olympic.
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That crushing disappointment was followed by a near-fatal health problem and now, on the brink of huge world title fights as an unbeaten professional, 28-year-old Cameron tells the story of the lowest moments of her life for the first time in a special. Wham Bam Chan’ admitted, Not qualifying for that Olympic was simply one of the hardest things I’ve gone through. It was horrible.
The whole team qualified apart from me and the fact I’d already beaten lots of the girls who went broke my heart. Everyone was asking what happened afterward and I just shut myself in my room for two weeks. People were very worried about me. I’d made so many sacrifices for four years – continuous training. I had no social life because I was so determined to go to the Olympic. I felt cheated out of it because of my style.
I did not want anything to do with boxing after that. I didn’t watch any of the Olympic. The thought of boxing made me physically sick. I still loved fighting. I went back to the kickboxing gym but I realized it’s not the same. I was in love with boxing even though it broke my heart. I felt like I’d let my family down and my town down.
If I was going to leave boxing, I wanted to leave with a major medal. I couldn’t leave with anything. The plan was to win that and then just walk away. I went to the Europeans calmed and relaxed. I boxed brilliantly and boxed a Russian’s head off. I laughed when they raised her hand. It was a joke. Then I nearly died. I didn’t realize I had septicemia. I ended up in the hospital for a week and I had to have it cut out.
I was still on Team GB but I had a pump strapped to my leg. It was three months of doing nothing. I opted to go into professional boxing. I thought I’d have a go and I immediately loved it. When I’m in camp, I’m fully dedicated – as much as any professional. Outside of camp, I like to have fun these days. I have to enjoy myself because I remember how depressed I was over the Olympic disappointment. Boxing is a sport for me and I’m having fun now. I go in there to destroy opponents because I don’t want to leave things to judges.
I have a love-hate relationship with boxing. It’s a rollercoaster with lots of ups and downs. You may want to quit when the downs come but if you persevere, you can be a champion. The sport destroyed me mentally and physically and I had no idea what my purpose in life was. I thought it was my be-all and end-all.
My family tell me that every time I’ve been knocked down I get up stronger than before. The advice I’d give to youngsters is that this is a sport and you should enjoy it. You can’t lose the fun factor. I made that mistake before and it became a chore and made me miserable. I’m doing this for fun and to secure my future. If it doesn’t work out, I’m still going to be healthy and breathing. I’d just have to find a new chapter.
This is my last chance to make it work and I’m giving it everything. Joining Jamie’s stable has brought the fun back. I don’t even feel like I’m in camp. I’m training hard and putting so much work in but it’s fun. I used to hate and dread training but now I enjoy getting up and going to Jamie’s gym. I’m learning and improving because I’m relaxed. I’m enjoying boxing again.
Jamie and Nigel are very positive so when I joined with my confidence was low, doubting myself, they motivated me to push on. It’s a great team to be around. After boxing, I want to become a PE teacher. I’m currently trying to get on to a university course. I plan to study alongside my boxing career. I’ve always wanted to be a PE teacher and then, of course, there are good holidays you get!