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Hanna Hansen: From modelling to boxing

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At the age of 20, Hanna Hansen decided to move from Germany to the fashion capital of the world, Paris.

She shared a dream with so many girls who hopped on a train or a plane to France before her: To succeed as a fashion model – and unlike most of her fellow dreamers, Hanna Hansen made it.

She became the face of a Jules Mumm ad campaign and modeled for renowned designers like Escada, Hugo Boss, or Vivienne Westwood. Hanna Hansen made her childhood dream reality – with lots and lots of hard work, dedication, perseverance, sweat and tears.

Fast forward 17 years.

Hamburg, 2021. The famous Universum Gym, home of dozens of world championship boxers. The polar opposite of the fashion week catwalks in Paris, Milano, or Berlin. Hanna Hansen, now 37 years of age, embarked on yet another journey in her colorful life.

On June 19, she entered the ring inside the Universum Gym for her professional boxing debut. Barely six minutes later, her arm was raised by referee Hendrik Schramm.

She had just defeated her opponent, Nana Chakhvashvili, a 22-fight-veteran, by second round technical knockout. Former heavyweight world title challenger Axel Schulz, who was ringside as an expert commentator, was full of praise for the debutant.

“It was awesome“, Hansen, a southpaw, said with a smile on her face. “To win by knockout against such an experienced girl, to be on television for my debut, and to receive so much praise from a legend like Axel. I couldn’t have dreamed about a better way to start my boxing career.

“Once again, Hanna Hansen turned a dream into reality – and just like with modeling, she did so with hard work, dedication, perseverance, sweat and tears.

In the history of boxing, many well-known fighters turned from boxing to modeling. Not so many models, however, turned to prizefighting. Hanna Hansen did – but her story does not end there.

In fact, the 17 years between Hamburg and Paris have been a true rollercoaster for Hansen. Upon returning to Germany, she began working as a TV host and acted in movies and shows.

Then, she decided to turn her love of music into another career and became a DJane, soon playing festivals and clubs around the world, like the Loveparade or Nature One. She became a resident DJ at BigFM, a nationwide German radio station, and worked global events like the Formula One race in Singapore or the Moto GP race in Portugal.

To stay in shape, she picked up kickboxing – but her trainers quickly suggested a fighting career. It almost goes without saying that Hansen succeeded at kickboxing as well, winning the German national title five times en route to become World Kickboxing Champion.

“Sometimes, when I look back at my life,“ Hansen said, “I think it’s all been really crazy. When I have something in mind, I fully dedicate myself to it. I don’t do anything half-hearted. I guess that’s why I have succeeded at what I have done thus far. If you dedicate yourself, you can do anything you want.“

Did we mention that Hanna Hansen is also a single mother of two young girls? “I actually started kickboxing after the birth of my first daughter, and I stopped when I was pregnant with my second girl three years ago.

“I had a three-year fighting layoff between my last kickboxing competition and my boxing debut“, Hansen said.

“My girls mean the world to me. Everything I do, I do for them. I want to be a role model for my children.”

When asked if it is difficult to be a single mother and a successful professional at the same time, Hansen took a moment but answered in her usual positive spirit:”When you love what you do, when you love the people around you, nothing is too difficult or too stressful.“

Cologne, 2021. In April, Hanna Hansen saw a familiar face when she left her house, the face of Maurice Weber, former world title challenger turned professional boxing trainer.

The two had been neighbors for a couple of years, they knew each other, talked about boxing and kickboxing a couple of times before. But this time, Hansen had a big question to ask: “Maurice, will you help me become a professional boxer?

“ Weber was surprised at first, but quickly invited Hansen to his gym in Cologne. “I was, like, wow, she’s got a lot of courage“, Weber said. “It’s not easy to just walk up to someone and ask him a question

like this, ask him point blank. Of course, I knew about her kickboxing background and so I said yes. I haven’t regretted it for a second.“

From day one, Hansen was focused, determined, ready to learn. “Her work ethic is exceptional“, Weber said. “She listens, she works hard, she’s disciplined, she does what she’s told. As a trainer, you love athletes like her. I gotta tell you, many guys can certainly learn something from her.”

With a laugh, he added: “It’s also a big plus that she throws a left hand like a guy. She has game changing punching power.“ He even had to tell her to take a week off from boxing following her debut.

“I need her to stay hungry, so I need her to take the foot off the gas for a little while“, he said. She listened, although she was not too happy about it: “Ever since I decided to box, I live and breathe the sport. When I’m not training, I am watching fights on television.

“I admire Lomachenko for instance, his timing, his movement, the angles he throws punches at. Just an amazing fighter. So taking a week off, that was really hard for me,“ she said with a smile. “But of course, I gotta listen to my coach. I cannot wait to be back in the gym, though.“

Hanna Hansen always dreamed big. That’s her personality, her spirit, her way of living. Therefore, it is no surprise that she is eyeing the biggest prize in boxing: the world title. But on the other hand, she knows that archiving such dreams is not a sprint, but a marathon.

“I cannot go in and fight for a world title right away,“ Hansen says. “Of course, my time is a bit limited because I am 37 years of age. But on the other hand, I have never felt better in my life as I do right now.

“Physically and spiritually. I need a few more fights, I need to learn much more, but make no mistake: winning the world title remains the ultimate goal.”

Her trainer added: ”She’s a smart person, a smart athlete, and she knows we have a lot of work to do before reaching for the stars. That is great, though, as many athletes are not as realistic as she is. If she continues to work like she does right now, if she remains as dedicated to boxing, I have no doubt that she will become world champion one day.“