Siona Fernandes and Alex Pritchard will compete at the 2012 Olympic Games in London this summer. The pair are set to become the first female boxers to represent New Zealand at the Games.
As any dance instructor from NYC to Shanghai will tell you, dancing can teach lessons and skills that are invaluable to a vast array of activities. From playing tennis to playing the piano, both the physical and rhythmic aspects of dancing can help to develop a craft. And, as one athlete would discover, dancing would also help her reach the Olympic Games.
Siona Fernandes, 29, is one of two women set to make history by becoming the first female boxers to represent New Zealand at the Games. Along with her fellow boxer Alexis Pritchard, who will compete in the lightweight division, Siona will compete in the flyweight division.
However, though it seems like every Olympic athlete has been readying him or herself for the experience for his or her entire life, Fernandes is different. The Indian-born athlete began boxing just two years ago; prior to that, she trained in classical Indian dance and received her bachelor’s degree in performing arts, as well as a master’s degree in psychology.
Her entrance into the world of boxing was not an easy one. After landing a blow to her face in an early match, Fernandes came home crying. Her mother was not particularly supportive, asking why her daughter “couldn’t have found something else[.]” Her father, however, was far more encouraging. “[He] thought it was cool. He’s a massive fan of Muhammad Ali and he’s very supportive of anything I do,” Fernandes told Reuters.
She kept at it, though she says she did not expect to end up at the Olympics. She compares the sport to chess, saying that instead of playing, a boxer fights. She also highlighted the similarities between boxing and dancing, saying that both are about “footwork, balance, coordination, and focus.”
Like many dancers, Fernandes is light on her feet, a particularly useful skill when it comes to the tricky footwork involved with boxing. As for her goals for London? Fernandes, borrowing a line from Ali, said she would like to float like a butterfly.
Interested in taking up boxing or dancing lessons yourself? Check out HeyKiki’s awesome resources, which are sure to connect you with whatever it is you’re looking for. As Fernandes has proven, it’s never too late to start up something new—who knows, maybe it will even lead you to the Olympic Games some day.