There are times when life throws us a curve ball. In such cases, some people break down while others just stand up and keep walking. What may appear as a daunting challenge at first can actually make us stronger as we handle the situation one step at a time with the support of people around us. One great example of this is Australian boxing champion (54 kgs) Antonia Konstantopoulou.

The young athlete was scheduled to travel to Athens in order to begin her training for the national tournament when all of a sudden she received some bad news regarding her father.

“One week before I went to Greece, I had a trip to Thailand for my best friend’s wedding. I was talking to mum and dad and I was telling them that it won’t be long before I see them again, since I was in Greece earlier this year so not much time had passed since the last time we met,” Antonia told Neos Kosmos.

“But during my friend’s Bachelor Party, I received a call from Greece telling me that my father was in hospital and that I needed to leave earlier. So I booked my tickets, thinking that it probably wasn’t anything serious since he had already been through a stroke about 15 years ago yet he survived. In fact, back then the doctors said it was a miracle. And we were hoping that all would be okay, that nothing bad was going to happen. Besides, my father was on medication and all his exams looked good. But as we later found out, his most recent ones were troubling yet he didn’t say anything because he didn’t want us to worry. So I left Thailand and when I landed in Greece I was informed that I didn’t make it in time.”

From that point onward, the young athlete was at a crossroads. On the one hand, she could give up on her efforts for the tournament due to her grief for losing such a beloved figure.No one would dare question her decision to do so, if she wanted. Yet, on the other, she could go on with her training and continue to chase her target.

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Antonia chose the difficult route.

“The championship was still there so I had to choose if I was going to persist or if I was going to quit. But when you go through something so hard, you start to think ‘what am I going to do now? am I just going to stay home? does life stop here?’ I considered that I would get much worse if I just sat around thinking about it, while I still thought that my dad was with me since it happened so suddenly and I haven’t fully realised it yet,” Antonia said.
“So my dad gave me the strength to continue training. About a week before the tournament, I considered if it was right to enter or not because I was in a bad mental state before and after training. But it was during training that I started to feel a bit better. I also had my mum who continued to support and inspire me. My mum is really strong. And without realising it, it was time to enter the ring.”

Of course this wasn’t the first title in Antonia’s career as she had also won the same title last year, and she has been named champion in Greece. While it made sense for her to be considered among the favourites in her category, Antonia said that this time it was different.

“Before dad passed away, I was one hundred per cent certain I could win,” Antonia said, adding that her psychological state was affected by her loss.
“It’s not a good idea to play when you are emotional. You need to be fully focused on the game and not play if you’re angry or sad, so that was a major factor. But in the end, everything went well”.

Antonia began her involvement with the sport back when she had graduated from her musical studies, yet she doesn’t let it get in the way of her singing career.

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Antonia dedicated her win at the Boxing Championship to her late father who passed away just two months before the games.

“I needed inspiration so I initially started (boxing) just for an escape as I was going through a difficult period in my life and boxing gave me the strength to continue music too,” she said. “I fell in love with the sport so I stuck with it.”

These days, she is just as involved with music as she is with boxing and plans to release her first single first with an entire album to follow suite.
Despite the fact that boxing and music appear to be polar opposites, Antonia said that the trick is to find the right balance.
“I can’t function within a schedule because both things I do are creative and I need to listen to my conscience,” Antonia said. “Most of the time I train twice a day while writing lyrics in between. But every day isn’t the same, I might not come home every day to write or I might not have the energy to practice on the piano or my vocals. But I’ve been practising music for the past 13 years so I have the experience to not feel a gap if I don’t practice for a couple of days. However they both certainly need a lot of focus and effort.”

Antonia’s next target (at least as far as boxing is concerned) is the World Championship that will be held in Russia later this year.

She will be participating as a member of the Australian national team.

Her long-term goal is to take part in the Olympics, setting her sights on the 2024 games.

But whether she achieves this goal or not, one thing that remains certain is that, with resilience and courage, we can overcome adversity, sadness, inner doubt and grief. Antonia is proof of that.