Boxers, due to the nature of the sport, can greatly increase their appeal to the masses by becoming known for wild and unpredictable behaviour outside of the ring. This has worked for many fighters in the past and will continue to be an avenue that is used by those who possess the personality for it. But what of the pugilist happy to go about their business in a quieter manner? Recognition from a wider sphere my take longer to achieve, if indeed it ever does arrive.
Jelena Mrdjenovich is a three weight world champion who is now experiencing more attention thanks to a documentary about her career which is due for release soon. Fighting out of Edmonton, Canada, Jelena is one of the most decorated female boxers of all time. A professional since 2003 Jelena is now preparing for her 49th outing and is the current WBC and WBA featherweight world champion. She has previously held world titles at lightweight and super-featherweight and due to her combative fighting style is always value for money for the fans who attend her fights.
Read on as Jelena discusses her boxing philosophy, how things have progressed for female boxers since she started in 2003 and for more information on the upcoming film.
CM: Hi Jelena, easy one to start with – what have you got going on boxing wise right now?
JM: I have actually just recently signed my contract for my next bout in France. A rematch with Gaelle Amand. I was not happy with my last performance there, so we are having a rematch.
CM: Having watched some clips of you on YouTube I noticed you are very aggressive in the ring. Your left hook is a thing of beauty. Is your pre-fight plan always to go for the KO?
JM: Yes, I am quite aggressive in the ring. I believe that you find this with a lot of female fighters, and that is why 90% of the time we are the most exciting fights on the cards. Another reason why I am so aggressive is that I am hesitant to let anything go to the judges. I don’t like to let anyone write my story so I always try to take matters into my own hands.
CM: You’ve been a professional since 2003. Have you noticed any major changes in the attitudes towards and the coverage of female boxing from then compared to now?
JM: Definitely! Female boxing is evolving and growing every day. We had the amazing pioneers of the sport who opened the doors for us women to get in there. Now the current fighters are trying to tear these doors down. I am among a small handful of female fighters that have endured the ebbs and flows of this sport and have been here for the long haul. I still remember the 2006 WBC Night Of Champions, where there were maybe five of us female fighters in attendance. And now we have grown!! It is incredible to be a part of this history.
CM: Speaking of history and pioneering fighters I see you faced Layla McCarter and Mia St. John earlier in your campaign. How much did your wins over these legendary fighters help you moving forward?
JM: Every one of my fights have taught me something along the way. To have these two incredible women not only on my resume, but as friends now, means a lot to me. It isn’t just about boxing but the network of experiences and lifelong friendships that you build along the way.
CM: You mentioned your next bout, returning to France to rematch Amand. It will be the 5th time you’ve fought on the road. How does competing away compare to fighting at home for you? Once the bout starts are you able to shut out all the external factors that come with being the “away” fighter?
JM: Once that bell goes, it doesn’t matter if we are on the moon. We all have one job to do. But as far as being on the road, I enjoy it. Life happens at home and there are always distractions leading up to fight time – tickets, family, friends and media. On the road no one bugs me till I get home. The crowd being against me fuels me!! I am stubborn so I love proving people wrong.
CM: You’ve been very successful in your career. Do you wish you received more recognition for your achievements or are you happy as you are, thus avoiding the potentially negative aspects that more fame could bring?
JM: I always want to do more and achieve more. I think that pushing yourself and working hard is the only way to stay on top of your game. If you settle and are content then you should consider retirement.
CM: Finally, can you tell the readers a bit about the documentary on you that is due to come out soon?
JM: This documentary is great!! It was produced by Gruvpix and they did a phenomenal job following me in my last training camp on the path to France. It gives everyone a little history of my life, career and training camp. We are having the premiere March 31 in Edmonton and it is set for release shortly after that. To learn more about that check out www.jelenafilm.com – also look me up on social media; @jelenaboxing on Instagram and Twitter.
– thanks to NY FIGHTS reader Brent Bodnarchuk for initially making me aware about Jelena’s documentary which led to this interview coming together