By Anil Jhalli
Marija Curran is on a roll.
The Ottawa boxer’s string of impressive performances in the past year include a silver medal at the Continental Championships in Honduras in June, followed by a dominant gold medal finish at October’s Balkan Cup in Bulgaria, which should propel her into the top 10 world ranking of her weight class of 81 kilograms.
But even with these top two finishes, Curran remains not only humble, but focused on her goal of representing Canada at the World Championships next year in India.
She’s confident that her performance in the boxing ring will catch the attention of Boxing Canada when it’s time to assemble a team for worlds.
In April, she hopes to get the chance to qualify at Nationals and earn her spot on Team Canada to take on the best in the world in 2018, an opporunity that only comes once every two years as the women’s alternates annually with the men’s.
“I’ll be happy when I’m back on Team Canada,” said Curran. “If I keep performing the way I am, I know I can represent Canada at Worlds.”
Curran is no stranger when it comes to succeeding on the national stage. She won a silver medal in 2016 and became national champion earlier this year when she captured gold at the 2017 Canadian Championships.
“It’s always the goal, going into something and winning,” said Curran, who fights out of the Beaver Boxing Club in Ottawa.
Even though she captured gold in Bulgaria, Curran admitted she wasn’t entirely focused going into the event.
Changes in her training regiment, among other aspects in her life, proved at one point to be a lot to handle for Curran.
“I went into it a bit distracted,” she added “I just had a lot on my plate.”
But the changes to her training routine proved to be for the better, she said, as it helped her add one of her greatest accolades yet, to an already glowing boxing resume.
She credits her most recent success to a change made in her strength and conditioning – Curran brought in a new coach to focus on that aspect – as well as a strong support system around her, from coaches to family and friends.
“I find being an athlete, you have your system and a big part of it is training,” said Curran, who, prior to her gold medal win at the Balkan Cup in which she knocked off the 6th ranked light heavyweight in the world Liubov Iusupova Pashin, was ranked 12th in her division of the International Boxing Association.
“I have all the resources I need to help me physically and mentally. I have the best of the best to help me get to the next level.”
Having three older brothers growing up, Curran said there were times during their playful interactions, whether it was just harmless wrestling or fighting over the remote, where she was defending herself and wanting to try her hand at combat sports.
She started jiu jitsu and later added boxing as a way to help improve her hand-to-hand combat skills. She transitioned to boxing full time after she joined the Beaver Boxing Club.
“You invest so much in your sport and for me, it’s just the best,” she said. “I think about how much time and energy I’ve spent it makes it all worth it.”
Having traveled all across the world, boxing in different international events and training with so many different people, Curran still has some jitters when she’s stepping into the ring to compete.
To help her get over her competitive nerves, she repeats phrases she knows will help her during the match.
“I just say things I know will help me win and helps me with my confidence,” she said.
It’s the same competitive spirit that keeps the drive going.
“It’s all about winning,” said Curran. “When you win, it’s addictive and you want to keep winning. You want to keep winning so you know the first time wasn’t a fluke. It motivates me to stay on task.