“The First Lady” to box in Arctic Rumble

Cecilia Brækhus will fight in Oslo this fall

Photo: Bjørn S. Delebekk / VG Cecilia Brækhus posing with all her belts after beating Chris Namus in February.

Photo: Bjørn S. Delebekk / VG
Cecilia Brækhus posing with all her belts after beating Chris Namus in February.

Cathrine Løvaas
Bergen, Norway

Norwegian boxer Cecilia Brækhus goes by the name “The First Lady” and will be the first woman to professionally box on Norwegian soil, hence the name “The Homecoming—the Arctic Rumble.”

The press conference was held two hours after a tribunal made the decision to end Norway’s boxing ban. The Minister of Culture, Linda C. H. Helleland, pointed out the importance of anti-doping work and presented it to the tribunal to give thumbs up to Brækhus.

Her opponent is not confirmed yet, but tickets for the event, which will take place on October 1, still sold out in one day.

The First Lady
At the age of two, Brækhus was adopted from Cartagena, Colombia, to Bergen, Norway, where she grew up. She started her training in Bergen and tried out several sports before she found kickboxing at age 14. She joined the national team at age 16 and won both the European Championship and the World Championship.

Later she joined boxing. As a professional boxer, she has competed in 28 matches and won them all. Brækhus was nominated for the “Name of the Year” award at the sports gala in 2010 and 2011 and won the award in 2013. She also won the “Open Class” award in 2011. She is the first woman to hold all four belts in the welterweight with the titles in WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO.

The Knock Out Act
The Knock Out Act regulated the organization of competitions and exhibitions where knockouts would normally be allowed. The law stipulated a punishment of a fine or imprisonment not exceeding three months for those without prior approval who willfully organized, participated in, supplied financial support for, or provided premises where knockout was allowed.

“Cecilia walked over my doorstep seven years ago and asked whether I could help her to not be a criminal,” says lawyer John Christian Elden, the chairman of First Lady Promotion, Cecilia Brækhus’s promotion company.

Brækhus says it’s been a long fight to get to the point where she is today, able to compete in her own country.

“I’m looking forward to meeting up at the elite sport center and not being chased away with fire and pitchforks. I would like to use the facilities there,” she said.

Her Toughest Fight
The battle to end the ban has been her toughest fight and there have been many opponents, according to Brækhus.

“At times they have been abusive and have used their influence on the Norwegian people and spread misinformation about injuries and doping. They turned below the belt, so to speak.”

Helleland also stressed the importance of focusing on the doping issue. When the regulations on doping were clarified, the tribunal could no longer oppose the application.

“We do not imprison athletes in Norway, and we can not exclude one sport. Enough is enough!” she said.

Brækhus thanked the Norwegian people as one of the main reasons the Knock Out Act has now been set aside.

A Historical Moment
“It’s not me, it’s us!” states Brækhus. “I’m not the only boxer who will enjoy the right to box in Norway after this.”

She’s right. Present at the first event in Norway will be seven other boxers who will have the opportunity to step into the ring, and it will be a historical moment.

Cathrine Løvaas (41) is a Norwegian freelancer from Bergen, Norway. She has a BA in History from Nord Universitet and writes about history, culture, sports, health, safety and environment, cats, and contract law. She runs a company that takes care of pets, and she loves weightlifting, photography, and literature. Meet her at www.norwegianfreelance.no and www.pusepass.no.

This article originally appeared in the July 29, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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