The Cavan flyweight moved down to Australia last year for university and boxing was put on the backburner.
An Elite boxer her entire adult life, Smith missed the sport while away and, upon her return, dipped back into boxing with strong results that have her approaching her final with Niamh Earley tomorrow night at the National Stadium.
Smith outlined to Irish-Boxing.om how “I was away in Australia for DCU and when I got back I said I’d give it another go. I then beat the English 54kg champion Ramla Ali in London and that’s what actually drove me to give the Ulsters a crack. To be honest, I thought it was going to be a tougher fight with Carly [McNaul] because she’s was full-time training and I wasn’t.”
“After the Ulsters I took a step back and thought ‘yeah, I’ll give it another crack’. I missed it a lot, being away and not training with the Irish team or even at home with my club. It’s good to be back.”
“It’s been a while. It’s two years now [since last fighting in the National Elite Championships], I didn’t enter last year and Carly McNaul picked up the title on a walkover and the year before I lost to Michaela Walsh.”
“It’s good to be back. I’m looking forward to it, getting back into the ring in the National Stadium and hopefully performing on the night.”
Smith became one of the first female boxers in the High Performance Unit as a teenager, and the 25-year-old can see huge changes in the years since. Indeed the breakthrough of Earley, a World Junior silver medalist is case and point.
The Ulster fighter noted how “even at the provincial championships, the numbers have doubled. Since 2012, it really has grown and right down at grassroots clubs are always improving, that’s why we are seeing the surge and the better boxers coming through.”
“The more competition the better.”
Smith is one of the most experienced fighters in the finals this weekend and approaches the night with a newfound desire to savour every moment.
While there are European, World, and University championships ahead, the Virginia fighter is not looking too far ahead.
Smith described how “I know everyone’s talking about what a massive year for women’s boxing it is – and it is. But, I think I’m gone past the stage of looking down the line at European and World Championships.”
“I’m taking one fight at a time, trating every fight like it’s my last. I’m enjoying my boxing more than ever and all I’m looking at is Saturday night. I was pushing myself too much, treating ever fight like it was a major championship and, I didn’t realise it, but I wasn’t enjoying my boxing.”