Eva Wahlström realized what boxing is really about – this is how the sport can help sick young people | Sport

Eva Wahlstrom realized what boxing is really about this

– Do we drink coffee before or after the interview?

It’s twenty degrees below zero outside. The sun illuminates the whole by Eva Wahlström living room and kitchen in Tolkkis Porvoo. After taking his son Elijah to daycare, he usually enjoys a cup of coffee in peace before starting work.

But mornings with an energetic three-year-old are different. This morning was chaotic, so when Sportliv’s photographer and reporter arrive, Wahlström is a little behind schedule. Coffee is only drunk after the interview.

Eva Wahlström turned forty the same year she ended her boxing career. For more than two decades, his identity was a boxer.
What is Eva Wahlström today?
– Today I am primarily a mother. The most important thing is to be present for the family and children and to give them time, says the 43-year-old six-time professional boxing world champion.

The contrast with the young, success-hungry amateur boxer Eva Wahlström could hardly be greater.

When I was young, everything revolved around me. My training, my morning heart rate, my weight loss, my needs.

When he had to take an extended break from boxing due to injury at the age of 27, he felt that he had lost his identity as a boxer. It became a time of introspection.

He realized that what he missed most in boxing was the community of the sport.
– Then I thought that if I could box again one day, I would do things differently. Then I would be present. And I would be there for others.

At the same time, Wahlström’s life also changed in other ways. She became a mother for the first time with a now 15-year-old son Leon born in.

And art took on an increasingly important role in his life.

Since childhood, art has been a way for Wahlström, originally from Loviisa, to find inner peace and connect with himself. When he painted and built things, he was able to express what was inside him.

Perhaps art could be called security or consolation. Something to go to when the boxing was too hard. The possibility of living in other, softer worlds.

After the interview, Master of Arts Wahlström offers his carefully prepared drip coffee, takes his mug and sits down in the Whiskey Chair he designed himself.

See Sportliv about Eva Wahlström and what she ended up with when she wrote her thesis Boxing as art:

Water that heals and inspires

Although Wahlström talks about the injury, his two-year break from boxing was actually due to a salmonella infection. He contracted the infection on his trip to India and as a result his tendons became inflamed.

– I couldn’t walk for two years. Actually, the whole body from the navel down was inflamed. I was in so much pain that I had to crawl to the fridge and the bathroom.

Even as a child he loved swimming.

– I remember how my father and I, singing together, swam back to back for long distances hand in hand across the bay at the summer cottage in the Loviisa archipelago, Wahlström says nostalgically.

When he was about to return to boxing, water became an important element again. In the pool, he was able to train everything from strength and speed to endurance and boxing.

The love for water has remained. Unfortunately, so is chronic inflammation.

Water soothes and heals. In the water, I also feel my body better than otherwise, and it’s easier for me to connect with myself there.

I’m also quite an introvert. Meeting people and noise make me tired. My nerves calm down in the water.

After graduating from Aalto University, Wahlström has worked versatilely in art and design. When he feels like his brain isn’t working, he swims.

– When I swim, it starts to happen. Stories and ideas for artworks arise in my head. Sometimes I have to go to my locker to write down ideas so I don’t forget them.

Had he wasted his life?

During his break from boxing, Wahlström had also realized that what he loved was boxing itself, not just competing and winning. Boxing was a way of being.

As an amateur boxer, Wahlström won, among other things, three EC medals and ten SM golds. When he returned to the boxing ring after his injury in 2010, he had turned professional.

Five years later, Wahlström became the first Finnish professional boxing world champion. During his ten professional years, he played 27 matches, of which he won 23. In six of them, the prize was the World Championship title.

The relationship with the sport he loved was not without problems.

– Deep down, I felt conflicted every day about the fact that I was boxing and taking big risks. Especially when I became a mother and became more afraid of injuries.

When, after finishing his career, he also completed his studies, the work on his master’s thesis became an inner journey lasting a little over a year.

Art painting is not only about color and shape, but also about power. So sometimes I hit with gloves. It has a certain aggressiveness that makes the pieces different.

Despite her success, Finland’s most prominent female boxer was often told that she was wasting her life on boxing.

When it was all over, the question that remained was whether it had been worth it. And why did he, who wasn’t aggressive and didn’t want to fight, have such a need for fists? And what is boxing, after all, if you leave out all aspects of competition?

Had he made the right choice when he chose boxing? It became a question of identity.

Boxing as an educator and teacher

When Wahlström finished his final work, it no longer mattered whether boxing was a competitive sport, an art, or something in between.

However, he had become convinced that boxing had a lot to offer in today’s society.

– For me, boxing has been a way to explore myself and, in my opinion, grow into an open and straightforward person.

Although many outsiders think that boxing is all about aggression, according to him, few boxers feel that way.

– Myself, I think that boxing is about being seen and heard. When in the boxing ring of eyes, the opponent has to focus on me one hundred percent and observe my every move and thought without sensitivity. In that moment, we are present to each other.

At a time when many young people feel very bad, Wahlström sees that boxing could be used as a tool to learn to know yourself, learn to cooperate with others and get out what makes them feel bad.

To me, a bit broken and failed is always more interesting than perfect. The same goes for people.

Wahlström’s husband, professional boxer Niklas Räsänen recently founded together by a youth instructor and a boxing coach Miika Mehmet’s with Gettogym, a wrestling gym where, with the support of the Ministry of Education, they do just that.

With that, the couple’s long-term dream comes true.

– You can learn to box there, but it is also a place where young people can hang out and spend time in a safe environment. We’ll see what happens, but it looks good, says Wahlström enthusiastically.

Playfulness and humor are important

After spending almost thirty years in the world of boxing and now a little distanced from it, there is one thing that Eva Wahlström would like to change.

During his boxing career, he was always busy. Rush to develop, rush to the next competition. Every day had to be better than the last.

I think boxing should be taught in a way that is playful and fun – and with humor. Of course it has to be tough too, but if you’re always thinking about the next race, you can never live in the present moment.

Today, Eva often practices boxing with her older son, Leon Kaislama, and every time she tries to make sure that both enjoy the moment.

– It is important for both boxing and people to be present here and now and find the beauty around us. And to be individuals with both body and soul. Because that’s who we are.

Perhaps Eva Wahlström has already found the answer to the question of who she is without boxing.

An individual with both a body and a soul.