Natasha Jonas: Boxer expects financial struggle because of coronavirus

By Luke ReddyBBC Sport
Natasha Jonas fighting Feriche Mashauri in March 2019
Natasha Jonas won all three of her fights in 2019, beginning with victory over Feriche Mashauri last March

Natasha Jonas says she will be among boxers facing "difficult" times financially as a result of coronavirus.

Jonas, 35, was due to fight for a world title for the first time against Doncaster's Terri Harper on 24 April until the bout was pushed back to June.

With countless events across the country postponed, she says fighters will badly miss being paid for bouts.

"I suppose we are like a lot of self-employed people in that when we box, we get paid," she said.

"It's hard because a lot of boxers will get paid for sponsorships on their shorts on a fight day and bonus fees for fighting. Those fighting on Sky Sports or Box Nation can get bigger packages for sponsorships as it is being broadcast on different platforms. When you're not fighting that doesn't happen."

A financial fight and child chin-ups

Jonas - the first British woman to box at an Olympic Games in 2012 - has resorted to taking her four-year-old daughter Mela to the boxing gym with her in light of the government's move to shut down schools in order to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

Unlike some boxers, the Liverpudlian receives monthly sponsorship money that will at least help in the absence of the payday she was expecting for facing Harper.

Asked if she was worried about financial shortcomings as a result of the blow to her expected income, Jonas told BBC Sport: "Yes. If you don't fight, there's your pay package gone.

"I get a monthly fee from sponsors. It doesn't cover my bills so the money I get from fighting is what covers my bills for the rest of the year. Times are difficult.

"As an example, I train in Bolton so it costs me money to get there five days a week. Your kit, equipment, nutritionists, gym memberships - that's the kind of thing your sponsorship should cover but now it's covering bills and stuff as the money is not there.

"If someone took away three months of anyone's wages I am sure they would struggle. Just because I am a boxer it doesn't make me different. I am not on the millions some other boxers are on.

"Not every boxer is on that scale, especially the likes of myself on small-hall shows. You make money from tickets but if the shows are not on there is no money to make. There are people dedicating their life to a sport and they cannot make a living at the minute."

Jonas says fight nights being held behind closed doors would have proven "better than nothing" in that competitors could have still been paid. She believes many fighters would have jumped at the option.

But staging shows even without fans appears practically impossible given the already stretched emergency services would need to attend to safeguard fighters.

As a result, Jonas says fighters are now having to adapt in order to be ready to compete when called on and she is making changes of her own simply by taking daughter Mela to Joe Gallagher's boxing gym in Bolton.

"So today, with the school shutting down, she's been at the gym with me as there is no other option," adds Jonas.

"She has grandparents and I have great grandparents but I don't want to put them at risk by taking her there. She was in the gym this morning doing chin-ups. That's the only option. It's either self-isolate at home or take her with me where I have to go."

Hard journey deserves Olympics

On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on gyms to shut "as soon as they reasonably can".

The move will add a further layer of complexity for professional fighters and amateurs in the GB boxing team preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at Sheffield's English Institute of Sport.

The GB boxing squad last week saw their Olympic qualifying event in London cancelled after three days of competition and organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Games are under pressure to clarify if the summer showpiece will still go ahead.

Jonas added: "I know what the work is like and the time, effort, energy and everything else that goes into it.

"Sheffield is a hard place. It is not easy to be there mentally, physically and emotionally. You are trying to peak to be the best you can at a certain time and you don't know if it's on. For their sake I hope it is."