Girly-Girl with Punch (daily newspaper Junge Welt)

Torsten Helmke/imago images

Sure thing, first belt: Klich’s victory at the International German Championship (Berlin, November 26, 2021)

She looks confused for a moment, her eyebrows flickering up, the corners of her mouth twitch down. Oops, wrong question, wrong sport? Because: “City or ManU?” he asks jW-Reporter. Her: “Man United.” Exclamation mark.

Successful start of conversation, point clarified. Why? Michelle Klich was born in Bielefeld, East Westphalia. Her father was stationed in the British Army of the Rhine in neighboring Gütersloh, where he boxed in the military team. After the troops left Germany, the family moved to Manchester, the island’s former industrial center. In 2004, Klich was six years old. One of the children – Michelle, her older or younger brother – was to follow in their father’s footsteps. The brothers preferred to kick, Michelle fought. The 23-year-old bantamweight (up to 53.5 kilograms) remembers that it was about dishing out boys, not avoiding a fight on the street. “My mom wanted a boxer, she got a boxer,” she says, adjusting the lilac towel over the straps of her navy tank top.

want to have to

It’s the Tuesday after Easter, in the foyer of a hotel in Potsdam, not far from the Olympic base. In front of the large window front, a two-seater, two bucket seats, a side table, all color-coordinated, light beige. An ensemble in the 1970s retro style with garnet red carpet, type: Flokati. Behind it, a free view of Lake Templiner. Sunbeams are reflected on the smooth water surface. Everything seems metallic grey. Klich has made herself comfortable in one of the seat shells, at times her lower legs dangle over the backrest, the white slippers tactfully clatter on her heels. Horst-Peter Strickrodt is sitting right next to him on the double set. He is Michelle’s mentor and trainer, not least a specialist lawyer for sports law, one with numerous professions and passions in boxing.

Both still have a lot to do. Despite initial difficulties. When the subject came up, Klich’s cheek immediately flared up: “Peter didn’t want to train me at first, ah, kidding,” she says, leaning sideways to Strickrodt. Both are smiling, still remembering the scene of the first contact. Strickrodt’s motto is: “The athlete must want to, must not be pushed by her parents to box.” There were doubts at first, but they have long since been dispelled. Talent, potential, perspective, everything speaks for the young pugilist, according to the Halle resident, who also heads the Gütersloh boxing club.

In England, Klich was already the number one Olympic boxer in her weight class. Done the national dress, won the title. Then the caesura, family, sporty. Return to East Westphalia. At 19, Klich admits: “I refused at first, didn’t want to leave everything behind.” Ultimately, she went with her, her mother was homesick. Not an easy time for Klich, she often sat alone at home. It took her a year to find a connection in the old and new environment, to settle down. “I really felt like an outsider,” she says. People in Germany act differently, dress differently, talk differently. Mentality, habitus, not comparable with each other. And then that too. Klich takes a deep breath, then lashes out: “Whaaat, boooxing in a gymnasium for school lessons? Uh, are you alright?” Completely unusual. In England there is no such kind of typical German club system. Boxing usually takes place in private gyms and camps.

»Kill with kindness«

So a new situation, a new arrangement – ​​Klich: »In the end I always find a solution.« Or: With »pure will« almost anything is possible. In high-performance sport and in general. In the past, as an amateur, anger was added to the will. Almost irrepressible. “A lot of things looked like street fighting in the ring for me.” Without tactics, a powerful go-ahead. She lost her “coolness” several times in the process. For a year and a half, Klich has known that autogenic training and yoga exercises help to act calmly in the square combat zone. No more aggro boost right before the clinch? Klich thinks for two or three seconds, runs his left fingertip over his left nostril: “Hm, I’ve become really chilled as a professional.” You believe her serenity.

However, being professional also means learning a trade. “You’re well aware,” Klich grins at the reporter before she’s finished speaking the sentence, “in Germany you need a decent education.” Her career aspirations: Sports and fitness clerk. On top of that: »Warning, warning!« – she could also be »really bitchy«. At times, not often, she slips an English vocabulary, mostly as a stylistic device to reinforce what she is saying. As a “girly girl” she is “magic”, difficult for the opponent to calculate in the rope square, with a good punch in her hitting hand. Her credo: »Kill with kindness.« With success. Even as an amateur, as an Olympic boxer. Her fight record: 30 fights, three defeats. Bottom line: three national championships in England.

With grip

Key experiences change a lot. It was no different with Klich. Quarrels about an illegally ordered corona quarantine at the Cologne Cup (former chemical cup) at the end of 2020 led to a break with the Olympic German Boxing Association (DBV). And eh – everything that is a hindrance “must go,” she says. The consequence of the bickering with the association: end of career at a young age or off to the professionals. The decision was not difficult.

Klich, who is 168 centimeters tall, has been a professional in the Berlin boxing stable Agon Sports since February 2021. The first professional fights followed in quick succession. In November of last year, her fourth professional fight was on the agenda. Duel for the vacant title of the International German Championship of the Association of German Professional Boxers (BDB). Sure thing, first belt for Klich. A stage victory on the way to “long-term performance development,” as Strickrodt puts it. In the beginning the pace is high, the leaps forward are big. The closer athletes get to the top of the world, the lower the rate of ascent and the smaller the steps.

First interim report, would you like? Klich puts the towel tighter around her neck and bends her upper body forward: “Logo, after almost a year and a half with the pros, a lot has happened, I’m very proud of myself and of what I’ve achieved.” If there’s a risk of taking off, to become unapproachable? “Oh no! I’ll remain the girl next door, I’m accessible to everyone as Michelle.« A higher level of awareness and sporting triumphs didn’t change that. One with traction.

And the next decision is already waiting: EM fight against the French Delphine Mancini. Originally scheduled for May 14 in Gütersloh, the show is scheduled to take place in Munich on July 2 after Klich survived the corona infection. She doesn’t want to cause any irritation, the second belt. “I’m 100% sure I’ll win.”



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