Pan Am Games gold medallists to be Team Canada’s boxers at Paris 2024

Two Canadian athletes will take to the boxing ring at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Tammara Thibeault and Wyatt Sanford will represent Team Canada in their respective events, with Thibeault taking on the women’s 75kg category while Sanford looks for glory in the men’s 63.5kg competition. Both athletes qualified through their gold medal performances at the Santiago 2023 Pan Am Games.

“I haven’t quite accomplished what I want to yet at the Olympics. Like a lot of things in life, things didn’t always go according to plan or as expected. With the pandemic, the preparations leading up to the Olympics in Tokyo were below par, especially because boxing is such a close-contact sport, so training was really impaired,” Thibeault said. “So things didn’t pan out the way I wanted to, but that’s okay because I have another opportunity now!”

For Thibeault, Paris 2024 comes at a critical time in her career. She has been on a roll since dropping her quarterfinal bout at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics three years ago, finishing tied for fifth. In 2022, Thibeault won gold at the  Women’s World Championship, the Commonwealth Games, and the Pan American Championships. She successfully defended that gold medal at the 2023 Pan American Championships.   

At 16 years old, Thibeault watched women’s boxing make its Olympic debut at London 2012, just a few years after she began competing in the sport. Nine years later, she found herself in the ring in Tokyo—the culmination of a long journey that started when her French-Canadian father and Haitian-Canadian mother encouraged her to get into the sport. 

As biracial kids growing up in Regina, Saskatchewan, Thibeault and her siblings were often made to feel like outsiders. Yet, when they stepped into the boxing ring, they found community and, for Tammara, a sporting career path, and now a second Olympic Games. 

READ: Boxer Tammara Thibeault on the many ways to be brave and her journey towards Paris 2024

“It started off as just something to do with Dad,” Thibeault told last year. “My eldest brother was being bullied at school, so my dad said, ‘Okay, let’s teach him some boxing.’ I tagged along and really liked it. I fell in love with the sport instantly.”

It’s been quite the pathway for the now 27-year-old, with two world championship (2019, 2022) medals to her name, along with two Pan Am Games podiums (2019, 2023), and a pair of Commonwealth Games (2018, 2022) podium finishes. 

Tammara Thibeault pumps her arm as she is announced winner of the bout
Tammara Thibeault of Canada celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Women’s 75kg Boxing Finals during the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games on Friday, October 27, 2023. Photo by Leah Hennel/COC

“In amateur boxing, I’ve accomplished pretty much everything–I’m just missing ticking one box,” Thibeault said, eyeing her first Olympic podium. “I’m very happy for all the successes I’ve had, but it’s all leading up to something for me. It’s all leading up to that final piece, the title of Olympic Champion.”

For Sanford, Paris marks a second Olympic Games as the 25-year-old looks to build on a career that has seen him capture bronze at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and silver at the 2023 Pan American Championships before rising to gold at the 2023 Pan Am Games.  

In his Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, he was eliminated in the first round. Since then, he has had an exceptional run and will look to continue that form at Paris 2024. 

Hailing from Kennetcook, Nova Scotia, Sanford trains out of the National Training Centre in Montreal, having moved to the city in 2017 before making his first world championship appearance in 2019.  

A boxer in red top with an Olympic rings tattoo on his arm screams and pumps his fist in happy reaction
Wyatt Sanford of Canada celebrates after winning a bout at the Santiago 2023 Pan Am Games. Photo by Leah Hennel/COC

“It’s me in the ring, but it’s for the whole community,” Sanford said. “Without my hometown, I wouldn’t be where I’m at and I always fight with them on my side.”

Canadian athletes have won 17 Olympic medals in boxing, including three Olympic titles, but none since Atlanta 1996, when David Defiagbon won silver in the men’s heavyweight category. Albert Schneider (Antwerp 1920), Horace “Lefty” Gwynne (Los Angeles 1932), and Lennox Lewis (Seoul 1988) are the previous Canadian Olympic gold medallists in the sport. 

Boxing competition at Paris 2024 gets underway on July 27 and before the final medal bouts on August 10. The preliminary rounds will take place at the North Paris Arena before the medal rounds hit the historic Roland-Garros Stadium. 

Team Canada Boxing Athletes at Paris 2024:

Tammara Thibeault (Shawinigan, Quebec)

Wyatt Sanford  (Kennetcook, Nova Scotia)