Mayo boxer tops podium in multi-nation tournament
Natalia Fasciszewska from Castlebar Boxing Club has topped the podium in the International Silesian Women's Boxing Championship, a multi-nation boxing tournament held recently in Poland.
On the back of winning the Under 18 All-Ireland championship in Dublin last season, Natalia was once again selected to travel with the Irish national boxing team to the tournament.
Natalia, who boxes in the 57kg category, was drawn in the quarterfinal stage of the competition and got off to a fantastic start, with the referee calling a halt to the bout after her opponent received two standing eight counts in the very first round.
Now through to the semi-final, Natalia faced the national champion from the Czech Republic. This girl was the favourite to win the competition from the outset and Natalia knew she had to be at her very best to overcome the Czech boxer.
What followed was three of the toughest rounds of boxing Natalia has ever faced. Flights like these are not only won in the ring but also outside of it. Natalia's hard work and commitment to her training outside of the ring showed in the closing stages of every round. Not only did she have the skill but she also had the fitness. All five judges gave the contest in favour of Natalia, and on she marched to the final.
Waiting in the final was a Polish girl who had beaten the reigning Polish national champion in the semi-finals on the other side of the draw. With two fantastic performances behind her, Natalia's confidence was at an all-time high and nothing was going to stop her from taking gold.
Her opponent received a standing count of eight in the first round and deserved a second count of eight in the second round after a clean knockdown but the referee waved it off as a slip.
Come the third round, nothing was stopping Natalia. She knew the gold medal was within her grasp and upped the tempo another notch. Her opponent received another standing eight count in the third and was probably lucky to see the end of the contest. Once again Natalia's arm was raised in victory after all five judges gave the contest to her.
The Castlebar southpaw now has a gold medal in a European competition to add to the silver medal she brought home from Italy earlier this year from a similar competition – all this along with the honour of winning five All-Ireland national boxing championship medals.
Natalia has a very bright future ahead of her in boxing, with one of the travelling Irish officials describing her as the next boxing superstar in the country. She inherited her love of boxing from her father, who is still heavily involved in her training today.
Originally of Polish origin herself, Natalie was born in a small village in the west of the country named Kamien Mały. In 2006, at the age of one, Natalia left Poland with her parents Ewelina and Zdzisław (known in Castlebar as 'Junior') and her three-year-old brother to start a new life in Ireland.
This was Natalia's first time to compete in Poland in her chosen sport. She has described the feeling as overwhelming after coming home with the gold medal.
Natalia will be back in Poland for another competition on September 22 with an Irish select squad under the guidance of Liam Brearton from Edenderry Boxing Club.