Pro Boxer Katelynn Phelan's Story Of Self-Discovery, Overcoming Bullying And Prioritizing Mental Health

Pro Boxer Katelynn Phelan's Story Of Self-Discovery, Overcoming Bullying And Prioritizing Mental Health
Jessica Gardiner
Jessica Gardiner

Katelynn Phelan made headlines in 2020, securing the WBC, WBF, and WIBA titles with an unbeaten record despite the challenges of COVID-19. Yet, in 2021, Katelynn surprised many by taking a step back from the pinnacle of her success. Why? Because, for her, true love for the sport meant a journey of self-discovery and prioritizing mental health.

On the latest episode of the Her Sport Show, Katelynn shared her inspiring story of resilience and overcoming struggles, highlighting her journey in and out of the boxing ring.

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Growing up in a boxing family, Katelynn always had the desire to box, even though her father, who runs a local boxing club in Kildare, did not want her to pick up the sport.

"When I wanted to start boxing, my dad wouldn't let me. Females in that kind of sport were always frowned upon when I was growing up. My dad was one of the men who believed that girls weren't allowed to box... but I was stubborn and persistent, so he eventually just gave in!"

Katelynn's talent shone from a young age but as she continued to be a rising star inside the ring. Despite her talent, Katelynn faced a different kind of battle outside the ring - severe bullying from sixth class onwards by girls' whom she had once called friends. It went to the extent of Katelynn having to leave school at the beginning of fifth year. Supported by her family and fueled by her passion for boxing, she managed to triumph over this challenge.

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Turning pro at 18, Katelynn, known as The Smiling Assassin, quickly rose through the ranks, achieving three unbeaten fights before heading to Germany for her fourth bout against a more experienced German fighter, Jessica Schadko, in 2020. This would have been Katelynn's biggest fight yet, with three minor world titles up for grabs.

Katelynn emerged victorious, having boxed Schadko out of the fight before the start of the sixth round. Reflecting on her victory in Germany, Katelynn said, "Everyone expected me to lose because I was going to the girl's [Schadko] local town, she was the biggest hotshot coming up from there, and her coach put on a whole show for her to win those belts... and I put a stop to her."

Returning to Ireland with world titles, including the WBC 'Youth' strap, the world was Katelynn's oyster but her victory was short lived because in 2021, an injury and mental health challenges, prompted her to take a step back from boxing.

"I had an injury and had to take some time off for surgery, but I ended up taking almost three years off... but it was the best decision I ever made. If I didn't take time away, I would have never gone back to boxing." Despite taking so much time off boxing, Katelynn remains proud of her decision as it gave her time to rediscover herself.

"I wanted to be known as Katelynn Phelan, not just the girl that does boxing. I definitely found myself again, and I can gladly say that I'm happy. And they do say, a happy fighter is a dangerous fighter."

Currently training with Daniel Anderson in Belfast, Katelynn is gearing up for a comeback, eyeing a potential fight in the new year. Her return isn't just about reclaiming her spot in the ring but showcasing resilience against adversity.

Hear Katelynn's full inspiring story in the latest episode of the Her Sport Show:

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