By Mckenzie Swanson, Maddie’s Sister
What do you think of when you hear the word “inspiration?” The Tri-region has amazing people and places that give purpose to those around us. One individual is 18 year old, Maddie Swanson. She is a recent high school graduate pursuing her dream to become a professional female boxer.
Involved with sports for most of her life, Maddie decided to try the sport of boxing at 15. Former professional boxer, Ben Swanson, is both Maddie’s coach and father. Together they make a team that’s unstoppable.
“Lots of people ask, ‘Is it hard because it’s your dad?’… of course, it’s hard,” Maddie states. “But I feel like he is the one person that knows me best and knows how to push me and when to push me.”
For Maddie, her dad has been an idol and walked the path Maddie has chosen to take. Growing up in a poor neighbourhood and having experienced drug and alcohol abuse, Ben is now a proud owner of the downtown Panther Boxing Gym. “Just to see him and what he has come through…it’s possible for anyone.”
Another source of inspiration comes from her mom, Cyndie Swanson.
“My mom and dad would always say if i can do it, then you can do it,” said Maddie.
“Honestly, it’s true. If you pay your dues and put in the time to work on yourself, that’s all that matters and you can achieve anything.”
Soon, Maddie will be taking what she’s learned from her parents, her hard work, and the community to the national boxing stage in Edmonton, Alberta. This hasn’t been a simple journey. In high school, Maddie fell into her own exploration of drugs and alcohol. She felt that her life was“too easy”, so she would get drunk and high as a way to prove to her parents she didn’t care about anything.
“I almost wanted something to go wrong in my life.”
Yet, for Maddie, what started out as a simple act of rebellion later became a daily routine to escape the side of her she thought no one liked.
“I thought they only liked me for when I was under those influences. I couldn’t resonate with myself that they actually liked me for me.”
Partying and under the influence, the amateur boxer felt accepted and had a place and people whom she felt she belonged with, but this quickly turned into a deep depression. At some points, it got so bad she was in bed for months, not speaking, not eating or drinking anything.” This forced her to make a realization that would later be the best decision she ever made.
“Having your parents come into your room and pretty much say you have the potential to be great but with the path you’re taking right now, you’ll pretty much be nothing, really sticks in your head and mostly in your heart,” says the female fighter, whose parents couldn’t stick around and watch her throw her life away any longer.
“It was like, wow, these are your parents. These are the people in your life that love you the most and want the best for you,” Maddie reflected.
When we asked the fighter if she could offer up any advice for young girls and their parents in today’s day and age, she had some very wise words to tell us.
“It’s okay at the time not to fit in, your day will come and when you’re 18, 19, 20 years old and your friends are still partying and you have your shit together, you’re going to be like thank god I made the decisions I did when I was young. You want people to look up to you for making the right decisions and not the wrong decisions.”
The young fighter also expressed her firm belief in everyone should “have a purpose” in their life. She feels that we put so much pressure on ourselves to look a certain way or be perfect and in reality, “staying true to yourself and following your passions is all that matters.”
“Because I’m a senior, these girls I’m fighting have 60, 70, 80 fights and they have been boxing since they were 8 years old,” the fighter stated. “For me, I haven’t been in the game a long time, I’ve just started and I’ve already accomplished more than most people have.”
Today, holding a record of twelve wins and four losses, Maddie is preparing for the upcoming Super Channel National Championships here in Edmonton, Alberta on March 28 to April 1. Taking the win for this secures her spot on the Canadian National Boxing Team. Tickets are on sale at the door throughout the event which is being held at the Radisson Hotel Edmonton South. For more information on the event, visit www.boxingalberta.com.
Maddie has been through a lot in her life and boxing has played a major impact on who she is today. Her past, her present and her future goals of going to the 2020 Olympics, becoming a professional boxer and inspiring young kids all around the world all help her to be a better fighter on the outside and inside of the ring.
“I’m nice outside the ring, I respect everyone. I respect all of my opponents but I fear none of them. Everyone who walks in that ring, I want to rip your head off. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care if we’re best friends. I’m going to try and knock you out. I’m going to try to hurt you.”
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