In The Ring and In Community: Ivy Richardson On The Move
Ivy Richardson is an Indigenous woman on the move. Whether she’s boxing, weightlifting, running, yoga, or doing Muythai, Richardson loves all forms of movement. Boxing coach, business owner and community builder, Richardson credits movement for getting her through hard times. Deep down and through and through, she’s a fighter.
Nuxalk and Gusgimukw on her mom’s side, Irish, English and Scottish on her dad’s side, her traditional name is Snowmokadice. Family is important to Richardson, who was raised in Port Hardy with four siblings.
“My mom is probably been my biggest influence. She raised five kids, mostly on her own, and she's always working multiple jobs. She moved us down here to finish school. My mom's definitely my greatest influence, my greatest inspiration. I always say she's the hardest worker I know. And she loves even harder.”
Her mom went back to school with her eldest son, then went onto university with her daughters. That strength runs in the family. “My mom always always tells me that we come from such a strong line of women. The women, they raised their children, they stayed there for their children and they worked hard to be able to have that next generation come forward and stand,” she recalled.
After growing up playing soccer in a small town, Richardson explored sports more when her family moved to Nanaimo. She always wanted to try boxing and ballet. While admiring ballet shoes in a store, she was asked if she was a dancer. She shook her head and explained that in her twenties she was likely too old.
“Sometimes you got to get it in your system to get it out of your system. Just because it's later doesn't mean you shouldn't try it,” the woman in the ballet store said. Richardson took that advice to heart, settling on boxing at the age of 23. She would go on to qualify for Team BC within two years.
“I worked really hard and it saved my life. At that point I was really struggling. It helped me to overcome that.”
Boxing was where she found community after struggling with feelings of not belonging. “Back when we lived at home, it was different because I could walk on my reserve and everybody knew who I was. I knew everybody and they all accepted me. They embraced me and then coming here, I felt really disconnected,” she recounted.
She rediscovered that connection in the ring. “Boxing, they just accepted me without any question. I instantly was home. What I love about it is you earn your time in the ring, you earn that respect. Doesn't matter where you come from, what you have, what you've done. You earned that spot in there and you work hard and you're accepted. I love that,” Richardson said.
Once struggling both socially and academically, Richardson found connection through sport. She went onto university for her bachelors’ degree. “One day when I forget how much of a struggle it was, I'll go and do a masters,” she smiled. She would put her education to work in non profit sector but she didn’t stay there.
Everything changed when she started her business. “I don't know if I'll ever be able to go back and work for someone else. My boss is pretty cool sometimes,” she laughed. She loves earning a living doing what she loves, sharing her passion and getting to be part of a community.
“Find out what you're passionate about and build something around it.”
Far from the red tape of nonprofit life, Richardson is free to create without barriers, building structure within chaos. Every day is different, whether she’s writing, preparing for or delivering programs. Coaching an Indigenous youth competitive boxing team or working on her own training, her consistency in showing up in the ring is what is consistent in her life.
“It's a lot of work, but I love what I do. It's worth it. I wake up excited. I go to bed excited and it makes everything doable,” she beams. When asked for her advice to a young Indigenous person wanting to start a business in sports and recreation she had wisdom to share.
“Find out what you're passionate about and create something., There's a lot of opportunities out there and if you love what you do, you're going to put a lot more into it too. If you're passionate, you're going to pour a lot more into it and it's going to be done with love because you love what you do. That's really important to do it with love, always lead with love.”
Passion is what she points to create good days, but she had advice for hard days too. “Be courageous. You're going to feel fear. There's a lot of unknown. There's a lot of a big learning curve. You're going to fail probably. I don't see failure though as a failure. I see it as a lesson. The only failure I see is quitting. So keep going, feel the fear and go and do it anyways. Be courageous in whatever you're going to do,” she encouraged.
It’s not unlike her advice for aspiring boxers, “You just have to keep showing up. It's just really about consistency and just putting in that work. You earn your spot in that ring and you’ve just got to work hard and work consistently. There's no magic formula. No one's going to do it for you. You have to do the work. It's just really about showing up.”
Ivy RIchardson is a fighter who found love in a community of sport and is moving towards her goals the same way she moves as an athlete - with consistency, an appreciation for hard work, and the inspiration of the strong women in her family. The movement that got her through hard times in the past is what she’s building her future on… and that future is bright.
Thanks to Alison Tedford for authoring this article.
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