Danielle Bouchard is a Canadian boxing coach, who, for 2 Pan American Games in a row, had her boxers achieving 2 Golds and 1 bronze. Danielle was a pro-boxer herself achieving many of the sports biggest accolades all before women’s boxing became an Olympic Sport. Now that it has, Danielle is working hard to ensure her boxers achieve a new level of accomplishments and for her to become one of the sports most successful coaches. Danielle, originally from French speaking Quebec, Canada, shared some of her experiences of the recent Pan Am Games and how she became a coach…
Congratulations on your achievements at the Pan Am Games; 2 Golds and 1 bronze from 3 fighters! How do you feel about what you have achieved?
I’m very proud of the athletes, it’s their performances. Of course it’s a work team process but at the end, it’s these girls who get into the ring and fight. I’m there to support and give all the knowledge I have to make them feel good, confident and at their best to perform. I?m very happy because we had the same result then the last panam in 2011. Unfortunatly, Ariane did not make the finals, I feel sorry for her.
Can you tell us a little about your experience of the Pan Am Games?
I was living in the athlete village and everything was well organized. The food was good for the athletes to eat healthy and they have many choices. Room for my part was very small, clothes were interesting and there’s a lot. The gym was perfect even the boxing gym, we had everything we needed. It was easy to see each others
What emotions run through your head as you watch your fighters in a huge final such as the Pan Am Games and what is your main role during a fight?
It was really exciting especially because we were at home. You can feel the crowd and you know that they are there for the Canadians. Beside that, the task is the same, the athlete has to go there, do the same job as if it was a regular bout and? stay in control. During the fight and even before, I have to make sure that everything that the athlete need is there and avoid all the situations that could interfere during the warm up process until we get into the ring. When they are in action, I have to keep my mind and my eyes wild open to see things that we do good, things that we have to change and look for opponent mistakes. In between the rounds, I make sure that the athlete breath well, drink water then I go with what we do good and we do have to continue on and corrections that we need to do. Sometimes you need to motivate, sometimes you have to push the athlete a little bit, it all depend of the fight she is dooing. You know them enough that you can use the specific speech that they need to get better.
Can you tell us about your journey in becoming such an incredibly successful boxing coach?
As a boxer, I did 10 years as an amateur and 7 years as a professional so I have a lot of experiences and I know what a fighter as to go through. I also had the chance to be close to professional boxers ( and coach) that were world champion and see how they work, how everything was set for a world title fight and even being in the dressing room several times. I also did a fight for a world title in Argentina with 14000 peoples cheering for my opponent. When I was an athlete, I was doing my level just in case if one day may be I would like to become a trainer. One day, Nathaly Forget, an athlete that I was training with was always telling me: When you will be retired, you will be my coach. To make that story shorter, I became her coach and after her, I had a lot of request from other girls so I was all in even if at the beginning, I did not want to because I knew that it will be a lot of work and I never do thing half way. To get through the Pan Am is a request from the females. I?m travelling with the girls as a coach since 2008 and I went to many competitions: training camp, dual match, International tournament, Continentals, Pan Am and World championship. I know Mandy and Ariane since their debut. I guess it’s all my background.
What is it that motivates you to coach and what are your ambitions for you future career?
My motivation is helping athletes to achieve their goal, to get them better as a person and as an athlete. I love to see them improving and put a lot of effort to push their limits. My dream as an athlete was to go to the Olympics and I could not because in my time, they were no Olympics for female. But now as a coach, it’s my goal.
Have you ever experienced discrimination or negativity as a female boxer or female boxing coach in such a male dominated sport? If so, how did you deal with it?
As an athlete, only at the beginning in my gym. They did not believe that I could do it. I can understand because I start in 1991 when female where alLowed to fight. Men thought that we will not last. I as there for all the first appearance golden gloves, national, international tournament. For my part, I always get support from my family, friends and others. It was more a rules fight for us with the boxing system (AIBA), we were not threated as legal. Now, it’s getting better but we still have to battle to get more weight class at the Olympics. Sometimes as a coach, I feel that I have to do more to get the same credit then the man and to get the place that I deserve such as the Pan Am games. Difference of cultures all around the world and even in Canada for the role of female in society is still in process so it is in our sport and more over in a male world.
In your opinion, how can we encourage more female boxers to stay in the sport and become coaches?
When they are athletes, we can already show them the possibilities and drive them to follow lessons that they will lead them to be a juge, a referee or a coach. More models they have, more chances we have to keep them in the system.
What 3 attributes to you think a boxer needs to have in order to reach the top and why?
Passion, determination and perseverance. When you are passionned, you never count all the time you need to train to be a better fighter. Determination, because you need to fix goal and you have to achieve them step by step. Finally, perseverance and I would say it’s the most difficult because all the way to get to your goal, there’s a lot of difficulties that you have to go thought and it’s never easy you have to keep going.