Unbeaten Chantelle Cameron is a mandatory world title challenger in TWO divisions – but the trip here has been a treacherous one.
‘Il Capo’ (12-0, 7 KOs) has blasted her way to top spot in the WBC at both lightweight and super-lightweight and is on the cusp of securing a hard-earned shot at one of the world champions.
A former Team GB star, Cameron has begun preparations to return on the April 24 card that sees MTK Global team-mate Tasha Jonas challenge Terri Harper for the WBC world super-featherweight crown.
On International Women’s Day, #MTKInsideAccess caught up with one of the best female boxers on the planet:
#MTKInsideAccess: What was your route into boxing like? Are you from a fighting family?
Cameron: Sort of! I don’t really have fighting in my family but my Mum and Dad are both rowdy. They’d what you’d call a ‘handful’ in the pubs. When I was younger, playing out on the streets if I came in crying, I’d get sent back out to stand up for myself.
An older girl once slapped me around the face and I ran home to my Mum in tears. My Mum simply told me to go out there and slap her back! I went out there and slapped her round the face… then went running back to Mum again! I grew up the hard way on a council estate. It was tough love.
So when did the actual competitive fighting start?
I started kickboxing at 10 years old. I was always watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Bruce Lee films and I’d always be reenacting it and play-fighting. My parents initially didn’t want me to kickbox but my Dad finally came down there with me. I went with my mate but he gave up and I stayed. I guess he wasn’t man enough!
Back then, I loved kickboxing more than boxing but I had to make a choice. Female boxing got into the Olympics and I was told there could be a career for me. I was then lucky enough to make it on Team GB but the first time I walked into a boxing gym, I hated it! I did the session and it was full of men. In kickboxing, it didn’t seem to matter if you were a girl or boy but boxing was only just getting into the Olympics and it was male-dominated. Luckily, one of the coaches was great. I got a leg injury and then went back into boxing to keep my hands busy.
What is your experience of people’s changing attitudes towards women’s boxing?
At my first ever boxing match, my Dad got into an argument with someone who was criticising women’s boxing. My Dad told him to watch his daughter. Then the guy came up to shake my hand afterwards and said I was ‘a different breed.’
I’ve had to gain my own respect; especially when I’m training alongside guys. They doubt me because I’m a girl but then I beat them up in sparring.
You get approached in clubs too. There’ll always be a guy who’ll ask me to punch him. My mates egg me on to body shot them. I usually leave a nice bruise! I actually used to protect my ex-boyfriend. He’d have fights and if they were getting the better of him, I’d jump in and beat them up.
You are one of the biggest names in a wave of famous female boxers. What does the future hold now?
I hear a lot of men saying these days that training a female is better than training a man because we listen more! Some of us are just as aggressive as men and learn technical things more quickly because we listen more.
Now that women’s boxing is on TV more and more, people get the chance to appreciate it. They’ll sit and watch a women’s fight and be impressed. There’s a long way to go and I’m not sure it’ll ever be on a par with men’s boxing but we’re getting there and heading in the right direction.
I’ve not been met with any negativity from anyone who’s seen me train, spar men or fight. I’m spiteful so I don’t get any negative feedback about being a girl. I believe a boxer is a boxer – male or female.
From a personal point of view, does being one a big name and competing for the role of the ‘world’s best female boxer’ matter to you or motivate you?
Women’s boxing needed role models and some like Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields have emerged. I wasn’t even ‘into’ women’s boxing when I first started because it wasn’t on TV and I didn’t know anything about the amateur scene. Now, because the world can see people like Katie and Claressa on TV and in interviews, it’s growing. It’s definitely evolving for the better.
I’m very competitive but I don’t necessarily want to be recognised as the best female boxer in the world. I just want to be the best I can be. I prefer going under the radar and letting my boxing talk for me. I want to win world titles and do myself, my family and my town proud. What anyone else thinks of me really doesn’t bother me.
Thank you for your time, Chantelle, and good luck in conquering the world this year.