#22: Marissa Williamson Pohlman, from life in foster care to qualifying for the Olympics and making history in the ring.

#22: Marissa Williamson Pohlman, from life in foster care to qualifying for the Olympics and making history in the ring.

Marissa (Riss) Williamson Pohlman is a proud Ngarrindjeri woman, who was raised on Wadawurrung Country in Victoria and very recently became the first Aboriginal woman to qualify for the sport of boxing in the Olympics. At the 2023 Australian Elite Boxing Championships in August, she also made history being the first woman to win the Arthur Tunstall Trophy, which is given to the best boxer at the tournament. She will be representing Australia at the 2024 Olympics and has started a very busy training regime to prepare.

But, Riss is so much more than boxing. In this episode, Riss very openly talks about her childhood, having lived in 16 foster care homes, experiencing homelessness, and attending 6 different high schools. Riss explains that a high school principal gave her one more chance if she was to sign a behaviour contract and take up a sport, which at the time, was AFL. It was through one of her foster carers that Riss discovered the sport of boxing and she has never looked back.

At just 21, Riss is wise beyond her years. She shares some great tips for teachers and schools to consider when working with traumatised young people. She also talks about how damaging the foster care experience can be for young people, particularly for First Nations young people when they are not placed with their community and without connection to their culture. She talks about her adoptive Mum being someone to look up to, who has given her a home and made her boxing career possible.

Unfortunately, in the Australian sporting context, athletes do not receive a wage to compete for Australia and are merely supported financially to attend the games. Riss' Olympic journey can only happen through the generosity and support of sponsors and donations. Riss has a Go Fund Me page which can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/marissas-road-to-the-paris-olympics?member=31550049&sharetype=teams&utm_campaign=p_na+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer

You can follow Riss' journey on her instragram: https://www.instagram.com/risswillpohl/

The episode is brought to you by our sponsor, Teachers Well. You can learn more about their work or purchase a compass journal here: https://www.teacherswell.com/

SOS Palestine is an NGO and not for profit that was established in 1966 to support children and young people at risk due to family breakdown or the loss of a parent. They offer programmes to strengthen families and to provide out of home care services in Gaza and the West Bank. As you can imagine, they are currently working harder than ever, and financial support is needed. You can learn more about their work or donate by visiting https://www.sos-palestine.org/

Host: Megan Corcoran, Wagtail Institute, https://wagtailinstitute.com/

Music by Kabbilistic Village https://kabbalisticvillage.com/