• Caroline Dubois was crowned Athlete Of The Year by the Granddaughter of Nelson Mandela, Ndelika, at the Mandela Awards
  • The awards were held as part of International Women’s Month and honoured women from different fields for their outstanding achievements
  • The awards were hosted at 180 Strand, Soho House as part of the the 10th Annual Commonwealth Africa Summit

After a glittering amateur career which saw her be crowned Youth Olympic Champion, World Youth Champion, four-time European Youth Champion, Caroline was awarded SportsAid’s one-to-watch award in 2018 and BBC Young Sports Personality Of The Year in 2019 before she represented Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics – Caroline Dubois on Friday, was awarded Athlete Of The Year by Ndileka Mandela at the 2024 Mandela Awards. As a professional, ‘Sweet’ Caroline Dubois has already become IBO World Champion at just 23 years old in an unprecedented feat.

In her acceptance speech, Caroline Dubois, said: “Thank you to Ms. Mandela for presenting me with this beautiful award. It is a testament of my achievements, but also your achievements as a woman. Being able to make a name for yourself with such a massive surname that you have is truly amazing.” 

“I come from a very big boxing family. My brother is a professional boxer and I’ve just been following in his footsteps. I’m the middle child of 7 children and as the middle child you really have to fight to make a name for yourself and be noticed, and that’s all I think I’ve ever been doing. Being in the ring has given me that spotlight, stage, and platform to make a name for myself and for that I’ll be forever thankful to boxing.”

“When I started boxing, there weren’t many female boxers. There were none in the gym that I went to. When I went to my first boxing club, I remember being told by the coach at the time ‘you’re amazing, you’re going to be a World Champion…’, but when he found out I was a girl he didn’t want me in the club anymore and he kicked me out.”

“Fast forward a couple of years I was able to make the biggest dream of my career come true when I qualified for the Olympic games. For me it was such an amazing moment, one I’ll never forget. It was very hard but it was very worthwhile. Now hopefully as a professional I can make my dreams of being World Champion come true.” 

It’s been a massive journey. The biggest change for me is going from a normal girl at the gym to being seen as a role model. I’m not sure when that happened, it may have happened overnight. But it happened, and I’m ready to step into the shoes.”

Ben Shalom, CEO of BOXXER, said: “We are incredibly proud of Caroline and all that she has achieved. She is an inspiration and a role model to countless young girls and boys around the world. This award is a testament to both her character and her ability. We believe she will become the first female pay-per-view star, and be the one to lead women’s boxing to new heights, and we can’t wait to support her in achieving this.”

Ndileka Mandela is more than just the granddaughter of Nelson Mandela; she is a prominent social activist and former ICU nurse in South Africa. As the head of the Thembekile Mandela Foundation, focused on rural upliftment, Ndileka has shown a commitment to positive change in her country. Despite being the eldest grandchild of Nelson Mandela, her journey has been marked by personal challenges and resilience. In 2017, Ndileka bravely disclosed her own experience of sexual violence, aligning herself with the #MeToo movement. Her actions earned praise from her cousin Mandla Mandela and sparked important conversations about combating stigma and addressing sexual violence. Amidst debates about her grandfather’s legacy, Ndileka emerged as a staunch defender, illustrating her deep connection to his principles and values. Through her activism and advocacy, Ndileka Mandela continues to carve her own impactful legacy, standing tall as a beacon of strength and integrity.

Ndileka Mandela, speaking at the awards, said: “To tell you a bit about my Grandfather and the reason for these awards. Grandad and my Grandmother gave me the opportunity of honouring my own voice. Finding your own voice as a woman first, as a person, and also putting pen to paper in your own narrative so that other people do not write your story. The woman that we are honouring today; they’re to reach for their dreams and be able to narrate their own story so that nobody else can narrate it for them.”

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