An Olympic female boxer on how to retrain your brain for success

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Alexis Pritchard fought her way to boxing glory in 2012 when she became the first New Zealand woman to win an Olympic bout. She talks to us about her most epic battle in the ring and her work since retiring from the sport as a mindset and performance coach…

How did you get into boxing?

I got into boxing aged 19 when my self-esteem and confidence were a bit low. I looked up a boxing gym in the Yellow Pages in 2003 and the first one I called said ‘we’re too busy to answer the phone but come and try a class’, so I did. The minute I hit the bag I just felt powerful and strong and it was so much fun. I feel like I fell in love with it on that first day.

What’s your defining career moment?

It came in 2016 at the World Championships which was a qualifying tournament for the Rio Olympics. I fought the world number two from Azerbaijan and it was one of the best fights of my career. I showed up confident, courageous and assertive. I knew she was a great boxer and both of us fought beautifully. I remember standing back in the ring and thinking ‘damn this is cool’. Her hand was raised the victor in the end but that was the moment I realised I belonged on the world stage.

How does what you learned in the ring translate into your work as a mindset coach?

As an athlete, I had to figure out how to be calm, clear and collected while under an immense amount of pressure – and that is translated into what I do now because I teach people how to do that. Whether it’s public speaking in a boardroom or as an athlete, it’s about learning to perform with courage and overcoming your fears.

Do you think the biggest thing that holds people back is a lack of self-belief?

Absolutely. We are our biggest enemies. Why have we decided to be so hard on ourselves? The minute I learned how to change my story, my life as an athlete and my feelings outside of the ring changed. Becoming my biggest cheerleader is so much more productive than being my biggest critic. It’s okay to want to be better, however, if you’re the biggest bully to yourself in your head how do you think you’re going to improve? We need to be kinder to ourselves and look for improvement and progress rather than perfection.

Top tips for retraining your mind for success

1. Thought awareness. Stop and really analyse your thinking. Be aware of what’s going on your head because once you’re aware of the thought patterns you can start changing them.
2. Wake up and think about your first thought of the day. Tell yourself today is going to be a great day. Your brain always wants to be right about stuff and if you say today is going to be a crappy day your brain will seek validation for that thought at the end of the day.
3. Give yourself permission to be kinder to yourself. Be your biggest cheerleader rather than a bully.
4. Mindset is a skill, so seek out somebody who has expertise. It’s about empowering yourself with tools to improve the way you think and navigate this world. If you have the right tools your mind can be your most powerful weapon.
5. Move your body!

The best investment you’ve made in wellbeing?

Seeking out a mental skills coach and going to yoga. I love yoga because it’s a space for calmness and looking inward. Doing yoga once a week as an athlete kept me injury-free.

Life mantra?

“I Alexis Pritchard give myself permission to be great. I am powerful beyond measure and I shine my light brightly so that others can shine a light too.”

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By Sam

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