Many young boxers can’t wait to navigate their way through the early amateur stages of their journey, and launch their professional career and start getting paid.
After the lightweight division was added to the Olympic schedule for the 2020 Tokyo games, Raven Chapman had set her sights on the holy grail of amateur boxing; Olympic gold.
But, after the Olympics were delayed by a year due to Covid-19, Chapman decided to embark into the world of professional boxing.
“I just was presented an opportunity in terms of leaving and turning pro and with everything that was going on, everything was so up and down,” Chapman said.
“I didn’t really want to stay amateur for another four years (and wait for the 2024 Olympics), just because I’d be at the top end of the age if I was to do that.
“I’ve always wanted to turn pro and win a world title as a professional. It felt like the right thing to do at the right time with everything being so uncertain. And I’m really looking forward to what’s to come. Now’s the right time for me, so I’m going to take that leap of faith and go for it.”
Foray into boxing
Chapman’s introduction into boxing came through her family, and her father’s interest in combat sports.
“My dad was big into martial arts, kickboxing, muay thai, and boxing. And I used to just get dragged along to his sessions when I was younger.
“I was always into sports. I was very energetic as a child. I started doing football, and was really into it. And then I kind of just fell into boxing. My dad and me would hit the pads with each other; he would teach me how to punch to make sure I knew how to look after myself.”
Growing up in Brighton, Chapman joined Moulsecoomb Boxing Club, before making the journey down to Bournemouth to link up with the Arena Boxing Club.
Having previously suffered from stage fright, her move down to Bournemouth gave her the confidence that she required to be successful in the ring.
Chapman says moving to Bournemouth was important as she was living on her own and growing in confidence with the coaches at Arena.
“One of the coaches just could really get in my head and bring out the best in me. I just needed someone to really give me a little push. They really believed in me. When he was in my corner, he could just bring out the fighter and the fire in me and make me really want it. And that’s when everything kind of clicked into place.”
In 2016, Chapman won her first national title, and became the first boxer from the Arena boxing club to hold that accolade.
Training with Team GB
Having won the national title, Chapman was then invited to train with Team GB in Sheffield, which she describes as ‘a big learning curve’.
“I learnt a lot about nutrition, getting enough sleep, when to put my naps in and things like that. So it definitely helped progress me further and also gave me more understanding of myself and how I work as an athlete.
“Things that work for someone else might not have worked for me, but it was all part of the learning process. I think it just helped me understand myself better as a whole really.”
GB’s boxing base in Sheffield has turned out Olympic champions such as Nicola Adams, Luke Campbell and Anthony Joshua.
“To be training alongside AJ… when I’m running on the track and he’s just there. Things like that are really inspiring. It just makes you work even harder and try and do the best that you absolutely can, because you want to get to where those guys have.”
In March of this year, Chapman signed with renowned manager Stefy Bull. Bull has been managing current WBC and IBO world super-featherweight champion Terri Harper, who Chapman has sparred with.
“We have really good spars,” adds Chapman, who will compete a division above her stablemate Harper as a lightweight – the same weight category as Irish legend and undisputed champion, Katie Taylor.
“Obviously now I’m working a lot more on adopting a professional style, whereas before it was purely. And of course we only boxed three rounds in the amateurs.
“I have to work on the pacing of the fight as there are more rounds in the pros. Working with Terri has been really good. I’ve learned a lot from Terri and picked up loads of tips from her as well.”
Chapman is pencilled in to make her debut in the summer, when she hopes that a crowd will get to witness her professional bow.
With women’s boxing gaining huge popularity on these shores thanks to the exploits of Taylor, Harper, Natasha Jonas and others, there’s surely no better time to start punching for pay.