PART 2: Knocked Down But Never Knocked Out; A Look At What Makes Sara Haghighat-Joo a True Champion and What Lies in Her Future

Sara looking in the distance with her Coach behind her before a fight

Eye of the Tiger
Photographer IG @JeffLockhartPhoto

If you were to ask Sara Haghighat-joo what separates the good from the great? Her response would be simple, “a strong mindset and stubbornness”; two areas in which she is well versed. 

Sara believes that the only person that can fail you, is you. It took her a long time, and many bouts, to learn this lesson. But with 125 fights and only 18 losses, her Olympic and professional boxing careers are no longer just dreams but destinies for her to fulfill.

Olympic hopeful

As Sara begins her journey to qualify for the Olympics, she is faced with many differences in training for Olympic boxing versus her Professional matches. In the Olympics there are 3, 3-minute rounds with up to 5 days of fighting and a day of rest in between all the way to the gold medal round.

If you lose, you’re out and it’s just the luck of the draw who is picked to fight against you; there’s no time to study the opponent. In every fight, you have to show up as though it’s the gold medal match. For Sara, that is the only way she approaches her competition.

Sara doing mitt work with Stevie at West End Boxing Gym

Sara Haghighat-joo and Stevie Bailey at West End AC
Photographer: IG @annefrazer_to

What does Sara’s training routine look like?

2-3 sessions a day, 6 days a week.  

  1. Boxing specific – 90 minutes
  2. Strength and conditioning – 60 minutes
  3. Cardio – 30-45 minutes

Opposite days include sparring girls her own size anywhere from 60 to 75 minutes with 75 minutes of mitt work in the evening and going over game plans with her Coach. 

Just like most sports though, it’s the mental preparedness that drives an athlete to greatness. Sara believes that in life you create your own story and repeatedly tells herself that no one is doing what she is, “I’m an animal and I’m hungry, I’m getting ready to kill.” 

She tests both her mind and body by pushing her limits to see what they’re capable of: fasting for 2 to 4 days, layering up and sitting in a sauna for long periods of time, and setting an alarm clock at random times throughout the night to wake up and train.

Sara punching bag at West End Athletic Club

Sara Haghighat-joo
Photographer: IG @annefrazer_to

Sara taking a sip of water from a bottle her Coach is giving her with her other Coach standing in the background

Sara Haghighat-joo, Vinny Cappuccitti, and Stevie Bailey at West End AC
Photographer: IG @annefrazer_to

Whatever she sets her mind to, she accomplishes, “any hurdle that comes your way, figure out a way to get around it and keep trying.” Sara sees no other way than to push her limits both physically and mentally.

What happens next?

2023 is a huge year for Sara. In January she heads to Morocco which will rank and seed her for the year in World Championships. Two weeks after that she has her next professional fight in Ontario (February 25th at the CAA Centre). 

The rest of the year will be spent qualifying for the Olympics so she will focus on amateur tournaments. In August Sara will compete in the Continental Championships in Ghana, if she wins, she will qualify as an Olympic athlete.

“I’m #1 right now, everyone is trying to beat me. I continue to trust the process and, most importantly, I believe in myself.”

There is nothing holding her back and she wants other young female athletes to “go for it, don’t let anyone or anything hold you back.” 

Opportunity is there, Sara speaks from first-hand experience of how turning a negative into a positive and fighting for yourself will result in success. She even laughed a bit at the fact that she’s been in a couple of commercials: one for a gambling app and the other for Moneris. There are just so many amazing experiences that result from hard work, dedication, and plain grit.

Boxing isn’t a team sport, but Sara still has a team in her corner

As much as boxing is an individual sport, Sara knows it takes a team to support her journey. She has a Coach and a partner,
Stevie, who is on the same page. When he trains other boxers, Sara helps, they travel to tournaments together and are committed to supporting one another in both life and boxing. 

When Stevie was working construction, Silvia Cappuccitti from West End Athletic Club reached out looking for boxing coaches at her gym. He suggested that perhaps Sara could help on the weekends; Sara couldn’t be more grateful for all that followed.

She remembers walking into the facility and being awestruck by just how opposite this was to her days back at Astoria Boxing Club in East Vancouver. West End has everything any elite athlete could want for training. She found herself spending more and more time there because of how happy she felt training in that environment; it has everything to make her want to train harder and be better.

As her time there increased and her relationship with the owner grew, the beginning of their history is happening now. 

“The support from West End has been amazing, they sponsored me to travel and allowed me to be a full-time athlete, there aren’t words to describe my gratitude. They’re making it possible for me to reach a world title and follow my Olympic dream.”

Sara at West End gym practicing mitt work

Sara Haghighat-joo at West End AC
Photographer: IG @annefrazer_to

Keep on fighting

Sara remembers all of those that both believed in her and didn’t. She has had to sacrifice a lot to become the best, but she also knows that by pushing the limits she has become a champion. To her, this makes it all worthwhile.

This is only the start of Sara’s journey. See for yourself what makes a true champion; continue by following her on Instagram or signing up for one of her Technical Coaching, Fitness Boxing, or Youth Boxing classes. Sara also offers 1-to-1 Coaching with her at West End Athletic Club

No one can ever knock you out if you’re always getting back up.

Read more about Sara’s boxing journey in PART 1: Knocked Down But Never Knocked Out; The Start of Sara Haghighat-joo’s Boxing Journey