When Ipswich boxer Jessica Cashman steps into the ring for the fight of her life on Wednesday, she’ll have the blood sweat and tears of her parents behind every punch she throws in the ring.
The bout, on the Jeff Horn undercard in front of 16,000 fans in Townsville, will be the biggest stage of her career but Jessica says she’s built the strength and character, thanks to her mum and dad, to meet the challenge.
Cashman’s path to the fight has been tinged with sacrifice and tragedy.
She first got involved in boxing for self-defence but fell in love with the sport and its competitive challenge.
Along the way she suffered the disappointment of missing out on the 2018 Commonwealth Games and, in the greatest blow, she lost her dad Tim Cashman to cancer.
Mr Cashman was in the Air Force for 26 years starting out as a carpenter and working his way up to flight sergeant.
He did several tours overseas in Afghanistan, Iraq and the UAE and he is the one Cashman looks up to.
“Anything he did, he did it with all that he had,” she said.
“He would say, ‘Jess, I don’t know how to do it but I’m going to find out’.
“He was big on the word ‘want’.
“I would get these lectures, ‘Jess in life if you want something and you didn’t get it, you didn’t want it badly enough.’”
Cashman will have love of both her parents wrapped around her as she steps into the ring.
“I will be wearing my father’s military jacket he wore overseas and my mum, Donna, sewed all the patches on,” she said.
Another big influence on her are sons Israel, 11 and Caesar, 8.
As a single mother juggling work, training can be a balancing act but caring for her boys is always her number one priority.
“I love my sons,” she said.
“They are rock for me, I want to make them proud.
“They give me so much motivation it’s a big part of who I am.
“My role is to show them to keep having a go no matter how hard things get.
“They have seen me at my worst and know that no matter how hard things get you don’t stop, you keep going.”
As Cashman faces towards her biggest challenge she is not turning away from her roots.
“You can take the girl out of Ipswich but you can’t take Ipswich out of the girl,” she said.
“Everyone has been really supportive.
“I am giving the proceeds of my supporter t-shirts to Boxing Beyond Barriers which is an organisation that helps kids who are disengaged and supports them and gives them a reason to fight for their lives.
“Boxing has changed my lift so I hope these kids can reap the benefits of that.”
Cashman said she is ready for this fight.
“This will be the biggest card all year and it’s pretty massive,” she said.
“I’m really excited, I’ve been getting plenty of butterflies with excitement and nerves.
“My coach, Shara Romer, has been doing visualisations with me of the bright lights and all the cameras because in amateurs it’s not like that, you don’t get that.”
Cashman said once the punches start flying in the ring all of that will fall away.
The Jessica Cashman’s fight will be shown on Fox Sports 503 on Wednesday at 6pm.
Watch Horn vs Tszyu live on Main Event (available on Foxtel and Kayo), Wednesday 26 August, 7pm.
Let’s all get behind Jessica
Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding has urged the community to get behind Jessica Cashman ahead of tonight’s bout.
“This is the biggest fight to date of Jessica’s career and it’s exciting to have an Ipswich boxer on the undercard for the biggest domestic boxing event of the year,” she said.
“We’re a proud sporting city which has proven itself time and again to be a breeding ground for champions and sporting legends.
“The determination Jessica has shown in her life and boxing career is inspiring.
“I encourage the people of Ipswich to get behind her tonight.”