Welcome to Sky Sports Editions, where we meet remarkable sports women as they direct their very own cover shoot. Alongside all of the live sport coverage on Sky, this series provides a space for these extraordinary athletes to tell their personal journeys, in their own words. In the latest episode, boxer Caroline Dubois gives an intimate look into her life, sharing the hurdles she overcame — including having to pretend to be a boy in her early boxing journey — and the powerful women who inspired her along the way.
Her nickname may be “Sweet Caroline”, but Caroline Dubois is anything but demure. Her compelling journey and irrefutable raw talent, paired with her unapologetic showmanship in the ring, truly set her apart. The sister of heavyweight boxer Daniel Dubois, she has boxing in her blood; Dubois’ journey started from humble beginnings as one of 11 siblings, raised in a single-parent household by her father. Her dad’s encouragement to pursue a heavily male-dominated sport moulded her into the powerful force who is reshaping women’s boxing today. “[One of my first coaches said] ‘You know she’ll have to spar the guys? How is she going to keep up with the training?’ But my dad convinced him. He said, just see what you think.”
Even as a child, her talent was clear. But at age nine, she faced her first fight – her local boxing gym didn’t let girls train. “For me to get in the gym, I had to pretend to be a boy. I said my name was Colin. I was in my full Mulan era, and happy to be tagging along.” These days, Dubois is all about celebrating differences, rather than changing herself to fit in: “As I got older, I realised that being a woman is good. I’m so grateful that’s what God made me.”
Now age 22 and embracing her feminine side, Dubois takes joy in exploring her womanhood through fashion, effortlessly intertwining strength with grace in her style selections. She picks parts of trends that she enjoys and then makes them her own, and her style speaks volumes about her individuality, evolving with her as she grows as an athlete — and as a woman. “I like wearing strong shoulders, structured clothes, boots, shiny colours.” In a style reminiscent of her glistening presence in the ring, Dubois’ photoshoot is full of glitz, glamour, and playful embellishments like sparkles and tassels — but this time, it’s Caroline’s personal fashion story taking centre stage, showcasing her self-described style: “Unique. Strong. Feminine.”
Dubois cites her music idol as a huge style influence. “Growing up, I was a massive fan of Prince. People who make a statement. They walk out and steal the show,” she says. It’s no surprise that her eyes immediately gravitated towards that jacket: “If you see it at my next fight, you know where I got it from,” she says. This desire to represent her true self isn’t just reflected in her choice of clothes either: It’s mirrored in her makeup and hair too. These days, Dubois proudly embraces her natural hair, a symbol of her journey towards self-acceptance. Unapologetically herself.
Posing as “Colin” didn’t help Dubois’ self-confidence as a teenage girl. Initially insecure about her looks and compounded by having to assume a boy’s identity to be taken seriously within her childhood boxing gym, Dubois faced an uphill battle. However, learning to embrace her femininity allowed her to realise its strength and the advantage of being a woman in a mostly male sport. Grateful for her distinctive position in boxing, she sees the scarcity of females on the scene as an opening, now proudly asserting her identity in a field dominated by male counterparts. “There are a lot of male boxers, and a small margin of female boxers. I stand out.” For Dubois, fighting instils confidence, transforming her into the person she aspires to be. “I feel like I become the person that I wish I could be outside of the ring.”
Using fashion as a tool for empowerment, Dubois intentionally chose the colour purple for her kit. “I found out recently that purple, back in the day in England … Only people from the Royal Family were allowed to wear it.” Flipping this concept on its head, Dubois has claimed the colour for herself, aiming for instant recognition from her unique kit when she enters the ring: “I want to stand out.” It’s her distinctive way of leaving a lasting impression, showcasing her vibrant style and determined mindset.
Through her journey, Dubois has turned the challenge of being a woman in a male-dominated industry into a source of strength. Looking back, she wishes she could have been that guiding light for her younger self — a comforting presence when representation was lacking. She’s passionate about paving the way for future generations, inspired by fellow trailblazers like Natasha Jonas and Claressa Shields. Dubois emphasises the importance of these role models, envisioning a future where girls have a diverse array of female boxers to admire and identify with. “It’s not just me, there are other women coming through. You’re not going to be a role model to everybody, but the girls are going to be able to pick and choose which [female boxer] they identify with.”
And like her own icons who owned the stage with their presence, Caroline Dubois aims to do the same in boxing. Her unique presence, deliberate style, and undeniable talent all converge with her aspiration: “I want to be the fighter that steals the show the moment I step into the ring.”
Catch Dubois defending her IBO World lightweight title on 3rd February — available to watch on Sky Sports.