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Caroline Dubois recalls being 'kicked out of the gym for being a women' and fighting for recognition among her brothers as she collects 'Athlete of The Year award' from Nelson Mandela's eldest grandchild

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  • Caroline Dubois recalled being ‘kicked out of the gym’ for being a women
  • Dubois won the Athlete Of The Year award at the 2024 Mandela Awards
  • She was given the award by Ndileka Mandela, grandchild of Nelson Mandela

Caroline Dubois recalled being ‘kicked out of the gym’ for being a women during her acceptance speech at the 2024 Mandela Awards after being named their ‘Athlete Of The Year’. 

Dubois – who was presented the award by Ndileka Mandela, the eldest grandchild of Nelson Mandela – revealed how she pretended to be a boy to gain access to the boxing gym when she was younger. 

The 32-year-old superstar spoke about how her coach had backed her to ‘win a world title’ and credited her with being ‘amazing’ before realising she was actually a girl. 

Once he found out about Dubois’ real identity, he kicked her out of the gym – something he must have regretted as she went on to become a Youth Olympic champion, World Youth champion and four-times European Youth champion. 

Since then, Dubois has won the IBO lightweight belt and extended her professional record to 9-0 – seeing off the likes of Miranda Reyes, Magali Rodriguez, Sofia Rodriguez and more.

Caroline Dubois recalled being 'kicked out of the gym' for being a women during her acceptance speech at the 2024 Mandela Awards after being named their 'Athlete Of The Year'

Caroline Dubois recalled being ‘kicked out of the gym’ for being a women during her acceptance speech at the 2024 Mandela Awards after being named their ‘Athlete Of The Year’

Dubois - who was presented the award by Ndileka Mandela (left), the eldest grandchild of Nelson Mandela - revealed how she pretended to be a boy to gain access to the gym

Dubois – who was presented the award by Ndileka Mandela (left), the eldest grandchild of Nelson Mandela – revealed how she pretended to be a boy to gain access to the gym 

When receiving her award at the 2024 Mandela Awards, Dubois said: ‘Thank you to Ms. Mandela for presenting me with this beautiful award. It is a testament of my achievements, but also your achievements as a woman. Being able to make a name for yourself with such a massive surname that you have is truly amazing.

‘I come from a very big boxing family. My brother is a professional boxer and I’ve just been following in his footsteps. I’m the middle child of seven children and as the middle child you really have to fight to make a name for yourself and be noticed, and that’s all I think I’ve ever been doing. Being in the ring has given me that spotlight, stage, and platform to make a name for myself and for that I’ll be forever thankful to boxing.

‘When I started boxing, there weren’t many female boxers. There were none in the gym that I went to. When I went to my first boxing club, I remember being told by the coach at the time ‘you’re amazing, you’re going to be a World Champion…’, but when he found out I was a girl he didn’t want me in the club anymore and he kicked me out.

After being kicked out of the gym, Dubois became a Youth Olympic champion, World Youth champion and four-times European Youth champion

After being kicked out of the gym, Dubois became a Youth Olympic champion, World Youth champion and four-times European Youth champion

Since then, Dubois has won the IBO lightweight belt and extended her professional record to 9-0 - seeing off the likes of Miranda Reyes, Magali Rodriguez, Milena Koleva and more

Since then, Dubois has won the IBO lightweight belt and extended her professional record to 9-0 – seeing off the likes of Miranda Reyes, Magali Rodriguez, Milena Koleva and more

‘Fast forward a couple of years I was able to make the biggest dream of my career come true when I qualified for the Olympic games. For me it was such an amazing moment, one I’ll never forget. It was very hard but it was very worthwhile. Now hopefully as a professional I can make my dreams of being World Champion come true.

‘It’s been a massive journey. The biggest change for me is going from a normal girl at the gym to being seen as a role model. I’m not sure when that happened, it may have happened overnight. But it happened, and I’m ready to step into the shoes.’

Boxxer CEO Ben Shalom added: ‘We are incredibly proud of Caroline and all that she has achieved. She is an inspiration and a role model to countless young girls and boys around the world. 

‘This award is a testament to both her character and her ability. We believe she will become the first female pay-per-view star, and be the one to lead women’s boxing to new heights, and we can’t wait to support her in achieving this.’