Special Interview with Jennifer Huggins with Spark Icon
1. What is the “Spark” that made you choose the field of Boxing?
Boxing gave me purpose, it sparked a fire in me that was lying dormant until I discovered the sport. I have had the incredible opportunity to participate in a sport that has given me true purpose and to help others find theirs. I was too busy to train effectively to fight, after opening my gym, and I was missing the exhilaration of competition. I was encouraged by my national association to continue my involvement in competitive sport, by becoming an official in boxing. In 2014, I was given the incredible opportunity of becoming an international boxing referee and judge. This is a journey that I am still deeply committed to. I’ve travelled the world, met people from places I didn’t know existed, and have been an integral part of making dreams come true. I had a truly unique experience, working the Olympic qualification tournaments, leading up to the Rio 2016 Olympics. I saw boxers who have dedicated their entire lives to the sport, finally earning their opportunity to compete on the biggest world stage for any athlete.
Passion drives success. Being surrounded by people who are so committed to their passion, in all walks of life, affected me personally. What gets you through some of the worst moments, for a boxer, is focusing on the end goal. This strategy has become the essence of who I am today.
2. Being a referee, cancer awareness fundraiser, entrepreneur, and a performer with a world class magician!! What keeps you pushing harder and exploring things?
To be involved in business, entertainment and a sport surrounded by the world’s best, I find myself always striving to make every day count for more!
I feel extremely fortunate to be surrounded by some of the most ambitious, successful and generous mentors - from Professional and Olympic athletes, to Presidents and Founders of Canada’s top companies. I look to the late legend, Muhammad Ali, as one of the world’s biggest inspirations, though I’ve never met him personally. His words were loaded with so much passion that they’ll live on for eternity. In the words of ‘The Greatest’:
“Don’t Count The Days, Make The Days Count!”
3. You had a strong passion for skating which happened to be your dream career. Due to the mishap of a neck injury at the age of 14, your dreams shattered. What was your feeling when you were told that you wouldn’t skate like before and how did you bounce back?
I was not only told that I would no longer be able to skate, but I was facing the real possibility of being incapable of everyday tasks I previously took for granted, at the age of 14. The one thing that got me through the treatment and recovery, was in turn a setback to me in life, as my world opened up once again.
My entire life up until the point of my injury, was the world of figure skating. I had one challenge, one goal and essentially one purpose. I was left feeling empty and without direction when I lost all of those at the same time. I set my sights on being able to get back into competition again during rehabilitation, however, as I recovered my perspective on life changed. I was beginning to see that the world was full of opportunities, challenges and options.
I was out of hospital, finished with rehab and graced with a fresh set of eyes on the world. I realized that I was not in love with figure skating, but the competition and determination it brought out in me. I bounced back incredibly fast from my injury, but I was faced with the biggest challenge – finding purpose.
4. Who is your mentor and what are the enviable qualities that you see in him/her?
See answer 2
5. Can you describe how a typical day looks like in your life as a professional? What are the few habits you recommend everyone to follow to stay fit?
You would think that my days were filled bouncing around the ring and staying incredibly active, by looking at any of my social media channels. This is the case when I’m assigned to international tournaments, and sometimes I’m even busy dancing around stage with my magician, but realistically I spend the majority of my day in front of a computer. Much of the fun, exciting work that I am a part of, is a result of meticulous planning, promotion and hundreds of hours of paperwork.
I’ve always said that I’m incredibly fortunate that my work at the gym keeps me active. My only form of exercise would be a marathon typing on my keyboard, if it weren’t for the 5-10 hours per day that I set aside for training clients and boxers. It’s important to work exercise into your routine. Staying fit, for me, is simply a byproduct of keeping my business alive and thriving. This also keeps me passionate about fitness and my business. My strategy has truly proven to be a “Win-Win”!
6. How many times have you been rejected in your life and what is your learning outcome?
Rejection becomes a necessary balance to life, when you identify yourself as a “serial entrepreneur”, willing to try just about anything! I would likely have been placed in a white padded room 20 years ago, if business associates, clients or even friends said yes to every request, idea or plan I put out there. Being rejected use to weigh heavily in my heart for as long as I can remember, however, something changed very recently. It was actually when I started my organization, Fight To End Cancer, that rejection became something of a positive in my everyday life.
There were a number of factors that made me want to start the Fight To End Cancer, however, the main catalyst that set everything off, was the reality of watching cancer attack a close friend. I had never been exposed to feeling completely helpless. I always felt in control of my destiny, even when faced with the toughest injuries, and many life-threatening situations through my various health issues. One of my most painful experiences was to watch the effects that cancer has on an individual and their family. I decided to start Fight To End Cancer to be able to take control of our future. I truly believe that we will end cancer in our lifetime, through the efforts of our organization, and the research and treatments of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.
The journey of ‘fighting cancer’ has taught me that there are always options in life. It’s important to always keep your mind open and find ways of growing past the circumstances.
7. According to you, what is the best way to deal with any emotional problem in life?
Ironically, I feel like the best way to deal with an emotional problem is to completely remove the emotion. This is a tough reality to face, especially when I commit to every undertaking in life with deep passion. Making tough decisions can be clouded by emotion at times. It’s important to listen to your emotions and take them into account, but most times it’s necessary to take a step away from that same emotion to deal effectively.
8. What is the first thing that you say to yourself when you look at the mirror?
I generally have a tough time looking in the mirror. I was raised with the mindset that it’s narcissistic to look in a mirror to admire yourself, however, as a dancer I was trained to use my reflection to check position. This concept was reiterated while surrounded by mirrors in the gym after I transitioned to boxing. I’ve been conditioned to use mirrors to check how I represent myself to the world rather than simply looking at myself. I guess if I had to use the mirror to speak to myself, I would say “here’s what you look like on the outside, just don’t forget, it’s what is on the inside that is important.”
9. When people around you say, “No, You can’t do this!” What will your response be and the actions following it?
The words “No” or “You can’t do this” use to be a big time motivator for me. A couple of years ago, I went through a transition in life. Early on, people use to doubt my capabilities and I found myself working hard to prove everybody wrong. Recently, something shifted and I believe I’ve finally proven I can do it. I’ve found that I now enter new endeavors with the expectation that my peers know I will succeed, rather than being surprised when I do. I sometimes miss the days when I was underestimated. The sky is the limit in this new stage of life, as it’s not only important that I achieve, but that I perfect the final products that I present to the world.
10. What are the things that keeps you motivated to be your best every day?
The knowledge that we are only here for a finite amount of time, keeps me extremely motivated, each day, to provide the world with everything I have to offer.
11. What will be your 3 “Life Quotes” to our audience?
1- Live with purpose
2- Don’t count every day, make every day count – Muhammad Ali
3- "We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give"
12. What hobbies are you into and how does it help you to shape your view of life?
I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to combine my hobbies into my everyday life. Personal interaction, travel and art are three of the biggest influences on how I view life.
13. What is the advice that you would give to the youngsters when it comes to dreaming or determining their lives? What are your success snippets to make it become a reality?
Never stop dreaming. You will find success when you learn to blur the boundaries between dreams and reality.
14. As a woman, what is your Message to the women out there who always keep saying “I am a woman, I should NOT DO this / I CANNOT DO this “?
Personally, I never realized I was breaking barriers until after I had redefined them. I never entered any journey with the initial realization that I did not belong because of my gender. It was later pointed out to me that I was a woman in a “man’s world”, many times. It’s important to stay focused on what is important to you and why. The “should not” or “cannot” will not even be a factor if your purpose defines your role in any situation. Setting your sights on a goal, ensures the peripheral doubts coming from peers or even internally, will never weigh in against the core reason behind your ambition.
15. Can you name few books that keeps you motivated and that you recommend our audience?
I don’t get a lot of time to read, unfortunately, but I recently listened to an audiobook that gave me new found perspective. “You Can’t Make This Up” by comedian Kevin Hart, was an unexpected gem. It was narrated by Kevin and takes the audience through a play by play of his incredibly turbulent road to success. He reaffirms that any accomplishment comes with consequences, and many times it’s the ones closest to us who fall victim to our journey. He speaks about the power of the “shoulder shrug” and the importance of being able to move past rejection to enlightenment.
“The Five Temptations Of A CEO” is another incredible book that is an asset to the success of any business person or entrepreneur. This book tells a fable that is relatable to anyone who has ever stepped foot into the business world.
16. No one will ever know the “Value of Time” better than a sports person. How do you define time as? What is your advice on how to use it optimally?
Time is an illusion that we all take for granted. There’s too much when we’re young and when we grow up there’s never enough. Time is measured differently by everyone and will change for each individual based on the moment. It’s important that we use our short time on this planet to live purposefully. We need to learn to live in the present rather than worrying about the future or regretting the past. Athletes sometimes train an entire year and only receive a few minutes to showcase their skills. We essentially lose an entire year of our lives, if something goes wrong, or we don’t perform at our best.
17. What will be your one strong lesson that you would like to share with people who would want to pursue sports as their career? The difficult lesson learned the hard way!
Balance is key. Never place all your eggs in one basket. It’s important not to set yourself up for failure, but to set yourself up for multiple opportunities in life. When I lost everything I had been working for my entire life, in one moment, the issue truly lay in how I had structured my life.
18. Every winner has a recipe for brewing their SUCCESS. What is yours?
Personal success is defined by your ability to appreciate the impact of your accomplishments. It is important to take a step back, to be inspired by yourself, more than the approval of those around you.
End of Interview