Marissa ‘Riss’ Williamson is a boxer who was awarded a Tier 1 Scholarship within the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring Program, and has been paired with SAHOF Member and Olympic Beach Volleyball champion Kerri Pottharst as her Mentor.
Riss was born on Kulin land in Geelong, Victoria, in 2002, and is a proud Ngarrindjeri won. She excelled at Aussie Rules but came to boxing after a childhood of constant battles.
Riss spent her childhood between foster care, couch surfing and homelessness. The instability led to fights at school and eventually her principal put her on a behaviour contract which required a commitment to sport. When Riss first walked into a boxing gym, she knew this was her sport, despite being named AFL U/16 Sportsperson of the Year in 2018.
When Riss turned 18 her foster care relinquished their responsibilities and she was all alone. She managed to secure a home and work as a construction labourer, and her first coach helped her to stay off the streets. She then knuckled down to full-time training as part of the National Futures Team.
In 2019, Riss began competing officially and after just three fights was invited to join the Victorian Futures Squad. She then won the state and national championships in the 64kg division and was named NAIDOC Sportsperson of the Year.
Riss is determined to represent Australia at the 2021 Youth and Elite World Boxing Championships, and to qualify for the 2022 Commonwealth Games and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, on her way to becoming the greatest female fighter of all time.
Riss is also a Culture is Life Ambassador and is determined to use her profile to open a gym to improve the lives of Indigenous youth.
“It means the absolute world to me. I have no idea what it takes to go the full way, I am just at the beginning and to be guided by a three-time Olympian (Kerri Pottharst) is crazy to me. This is just another important part of my journey to the top. I am so thankful that some potential was seen in me.” – Riss Williamson on being selected as a 2021 Tier 1 Scholarship Holder.
“I love that Marissa is setting her sights for the top. It takes courage to put that sort of goal out there. I am really looking forward to standing in Marissa’s corner for as long as she needs me.” – Mentor Kerri Pottharst OAM.
Awards, Honours & Achievements
- Culture Is Life Ambassador
- My Physio Evolution Sporting Star
- 2018: AFLW Sportsperson of The Year
- 2018: National Futures Team
- 2019: 64kg State Boxing Champion
- 2019: 64kg National Boxing Champion
- 2019: NAIDOC Sportsperson of The Year
- 2021: Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship Holder – Tier 1
Boxing Australia National Futures Coach, Jamie Pittman:
“I couldn’t be any happier for Marissa, her passion, belief and determination is incredible. The Scholarship with SAHOF is an amazing opportunity and I look forward to watching her grow and develop as an athlete. It’s a privilege for Marissa to have someone of such a high calibre as Kerri Pottharst in her corner.”
Bio picture credit: SportsPics