Australian Olympian Boxer Marissa Williamson Pohlman Struggling Childhood

Marissa Williamson Pohlman is Qualified for the Paris Olympics 2024
Image: Marissa Williamson Pohlman is Qualified for the Paris Olympics 2024 (Source: Olympics Athletes)

Olympic Athlete Marissa Williamson Pohlman, 24, will compete for Australia in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. She is regarded as a strong contender and participant, and she will be the first native Australian woman to compete in the Olympics. She will be competing in the boxing division.

Williamson Pohlman overcame a nagging knee injury to beat New Zealand’s Cara Wharerau and seal her place in history

Marissa Williamson Pohlman was dealing with an ongoing knee injury. Despite this, she was able to beat Cara Wharerau in the 66kg weight class from New Zealand. By winning against Wharerau, Williamson Pohlman made history and secured her spot at the upcoming Olympic games.

She will be the first native Australian female boxer ever to take part in the Olympic games. Marissa earned her place at the 2024 Paris Olympics. She did this by overcoming her knee injury and winning the gold medal at the 2023 Pacific Games held in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

“Never in my life did I think I could go to an Olympic Games.”

Marissa said.

A struggling childhood of Marissa

Marissa is a proud Aboriginal woman from the Ngarrindjeri community. She was born in Geelong, Australia in 2002 and grew up in the Wadawurrung area of Victoria. As a young girl, she played Australian rules football before switching to boxing.

She moved between 16 different foster homes and attended 6 different high schools in Geelong during her troubled teenage years. At one point when she was homeless as a teen, Marissa tried to take her own life.

Marissa Williamson Pohlman Coach Kelvin Bryant
Image: Marissa Williamson Pohlman with her Coach Kelvin Bryant (Source: Marissa’s Instagram)

When Marissa was 21 years old and recovering in the hospital, her life changed after a visit from Kelvin Bryant, the trainer at Collingwood Boxing Gym. After this, Marissa realized how important she was to other people.

Kelvin arranged a place for Marissa to live. He taught her the proper techniques of boxing, turning her from a “naughty kid” who just fought wildly into a skilled and powerful boxer ready to compete at the Olympic games this year.

Outside of boxing, Marissa now works as a policy officer at the Victorian government office. Her job is to provide an Aboriginal perspective on policy decisions.

Marissa Williamson Pohlman is Chasing her dreams

As a young teenager in the foster system, Marissa first put on boxing gloves when she moved into the Collingwood Boxing Club, one of the oldest boxing gyms in Australia.

The Collingwood Boxing Gym became her home club where she started training in boxing.

With the support of her coach Kel Bryant, Marissa committed to full-time boxing training and was able to sharpen her boxing skills. In 2019, after only three fights, she was invited to join the Victorian Futures Squad. She won state and national championships in the 64kg weight class and was named NAIDOC Sportsperson of the Year.

A major turning point for Marissa came in 2021 when she received a scholarship from the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. This provided her with the financial help she needed and the chance to work with Kerri Pottharst, an Olympic gold medalist in beach volleyball, as her mentor.

Marissa Williamson Pohlman Secures Her Olympic Dream Despite Injury

At the 2022 national boxing championships, Marissa, who was set to become Australia’s first Aboriginal Olympic boxer, defeated two fighters ranked in the top 10.

In August 2023, at the Australian Elite Boxing Championships, she became an Australian champion for the third time. Marissa was also the first woman ever to win the Arthur Tunstall Trophy, which is given to the best boxer at the tournament. Winning these two events secured her spot at the Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands, where she then qualified for the Olympic team.

Also Read: Everything you need to know about Australian Boxer Monique Suraci

The realization of qualifying for the Olympics hit Marissa hard, especially since just two weeks before her competition, she had dislocated her knee.

Despite facing fierce competition and overcoming her knee injury at the Pacific Games, Marissa qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In March, a short documentary made by Archivist Media about Marissa Williamson-Pohlman’s life will be unveiled at the new museum inside GMHBA Stadium.

She made history by becoming the first Aboriginal woman to ever qualify for the Olympics in the sport of boxing.

Achievements of Marissa

Within just 4 years of starting her boxing career, Marissa has accomplished many significant milestones. In 2019, she became the state champion and national champion in the 64kg weight class. That same year, she was honored as the NAIDOC Sportsperson of the Year.

In 2021, Marissa received a prestigious Tier 1 scholarship from the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Her success continued in 2022 when she won the Emerging Athlete Award from MVF.

In 2023, Marissa earned a scholarship from the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) and was also recognized as a categorized athlete by Combat Australia. Despite her relatively short time in boxing, Marissa has quickly risen through the ranks, racking up titles, awards, and recognition from major Australian sports organizations.