Growing up in Lamin in Kombo Noth, Kaddijatou Jammeh, the Gambia’s only female amateur boxer had a big dream. Her dream is to become a professional boxer, fighting for fun and glory for her country.
She’d watch boxing on television all the time as if her life depended upon it. Whenever there was a major fight either at the Independence Stadium in Bakau or at local boxing venues, she would be there watching and cheering.
“Boxing was all that I wanted as a kid. It excited me to watch boxing,” she tells The Chronicle.
The more fights she watched, the more she was convinced she wanted to be a boxer. She’d attend training sessions and would also train alone to keep fit. In 2009, Kaddijatou began her amateur boxing career in Lamin and was able to improve both mentally and physically. She was quickly noticed by coaches who admired her game techniques and strong fighting spirit.
“I knew she would make a breakthrough and become a boxer,” says Marget Jarju, one of her coaches. “I saw the passion she had for the sport. Today she has the skills, quick hands and feet to stand against any female boxer.”
Because she is the only female amateur boxer in the country, Kaddijatou struggles to find rivals to fight with. She ends up fighting with male boxers at a local boxing club where she train.
“It’s difficult to be the only female boxer in the country. I have no one to compete with. The only time I compete is when I travel to Senegal. Sometimes I feel bad about it.”
Kaddijatou’s first opportunity to enter the ring for a competitive fight was in 2017 in Senegal. “I was really afraid when I climbed on stage for my first real fight. But I won and that meant a lot to me,” she recalls.
At 24, she’s determined to pursue her dreams. Her hope is to see more women in the ring. “I want to see women take up boxing as a career and then we can have our own championship. I’m sure it will happen one and that would be so great.”
Boxing in The Gambia has been in the doldrums for the past many years. However, the new boxing authorities have promised to uplift the standard of the sport, with a special focus on women’s boxing.
“Our priority is to encourage women to take up boxing. We will engage various institutions to like the police and the army to see whether they have women who are interested in boxing,” said Abdoulie Jallow, Secretary General of the Gambia Boxing Association.