Jennifer Holleman – Athlete and Coach
Jennifer Holleman had her first amateur boxing match in November of 1999, when she was 29 years old and already the mother of two children. It was an exhibition bout – no winner, no loser – but from then on, Jennifer was hooked.
During her career, Jennifer fought 39 times – an impressive feat given the low numbers of female boxers in her weight category, even fewer of whom were of her calibre.
Competing in the 57kg weight division and representing Bryan Gibson’s Evangeline Trail Amateur Boxing Club, Jennifer was five times a provincial champion and twice a national bronze medalist. She fought against some of the best female boxers in the world, including Jeannine Garside and Doris Hackle, both of whom were world champions.
In 2001, an arm injury prevented her from competing and training for an entire year. To fill the void, she began to get involved in coaching, which she grew to really enjoy.
After retiring from active competition in 2004, Jennifer served as assistant coach of the Nova Scotia cadet boxing team which sent a team of 12 male and female boxers to the 2005 national cadet championships in Sarnia, ON.
The team brought home 11 medals, six of which – three gold, two silver and one bronze – were won by the five females on the team.
The following year, Jennifer again accompanied the Nova Scotia team to cadet nationals, this time in Prince George, BC. This time, 11 boxers competed for our province and eight medals were won – four bronze, three silver and one gold.
In 2004, Jennifer was asked to submit an application for the position of assistant coach of the Nova Scotia Canada Games team. She applied and was chosen for the position.
“This was a huge honour for me,” she says, adding that she was asked to apply because 2007 was supposed to be the debut year for women’s boxing at the Games.
The Nova Scotia girls attended all the training camps and seminars until, a year into the process, word was received that female boxing had been dropped from the Games.
“I was so disappointed, because we had had such a fabulous year with the girls, and their performances at nationals were second to none. I almost lost my motivation to continue on as part of the coaching staff, but in the end, I decided to stay.”
In 2007, Jennifer opened a boxing club in Yarmouth. Despite an initial lack of support, she persevered and the Tri-County Mariners Amateur Boxing Club was born.
“I had a great group of athletes, both male and female. Within five years, I had trained a two-time national champion, who also happened to be my daughter Maddison, a national silver medalist and a national bronze medalist - my step-daughter Erin.”
The Town of Yarmouth named Jennifer its Coach of the Year award winner for 2007.
She has also worked with underprivileged youth as part of the Restorative Justice program, and is “very proud” of the difference she has made in many young lives.
Jennifer is currently a certified Level 3 coach and is working on her Level 4 certification.
She was chosen as an assistant coach for the 2011 Canada Games team, and was excited to be a part of it as the Games were being held in Halifax, but philosophical differences led to her submitting her resignation.
Jennifer came out of retirement to defend her 57kg provincial title. “At my best,” she says, “I was ranked 12th in North America. Not bad for a 36-year-old mother of two.”
While active as a boxer, Jennifer lived in Waterville and was associated with the area from Berwick to Cambridge. She currently lives in Port Maitland, Yarmouth Co. The Berwick Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to induct, in the athlete category, Jennifer Holleman.