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Marissa ‘Riss’ Williamson has been a successful recipient of a Tier 1 Scholarship within the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship & Mentoring Program and paired with SAHOF Member, innovator on and off the field and three time beach volleyball Olympian, Kerri Pottharst, as her Mentor.

Marissa is a proud Ngarrindjeri woman from South Australia. When Riss was 16 she had her heart set on making it as an AFLW player, after walking into a boxing gym that quickly changed.

Riss has spent her entire life in and out of foster care, couch surfing and at times found herself being homeless. At 16 years old she started getting into fights at school. This resulted in a signed contract between herself and the School Principle that outlined she had to get into sport, which is how it all started.

At 18 years old, her foster care relinquished their responsibilities. After a gruelling few months, Riss now has a secure home, a full-time job (labouring) to support herself and her boxing dream and now a role model in Kerri Pottharst.

In 2019, her first year of official fights, Riss had 16 fights. After three of these fights, Riss was selected in the Victorian Futures Squad, and took out two titles – State and National Champion. At first, that year meant everything to her, now she realises it is just a small steppingstone to the next achievement that is going to make her achieve her goal, be the greatest female fighter of all time.

Riss has her sights firmly set on competing at the 2021 Youth and Elite World Boxing Championships, qualify and compete at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and 2024 Olympic Games. With the long-term goal of turning professional.

After Riss has accomplished all of her sporting goals, she would like to take her journey back to the beginning and open up her own gym and take kids off the streets, the way her first coach did for her.

Riss speaks of her selection within the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship & Mentoring Program:
“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.”

Mentor Kerri Pottharst OAM said:
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.”

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.”


Birthplace: Geelong, VIC

Nationality: Indigenous Australian

Sport: Boxing

Disciplines: 64kg

First Club: Wyndham PCYC

Current Club: Collingwood Boxing Club

Started Boxing: 2018, March

Life Outside of Sport: Construction Labourer

Hero: Mike Tyson
“His life story resonates with me. He is a savage and I love that. He never fully reached his potential because he did not have the support he deserved. But he was still so amazing. His discipline was second to none. He was the most emotional fighter of all time.” MW

Pre-comp Routines: After her weight cut process, she likes to relax, have a bath to shake the nerves. Sometimes when she is too anxious, she will watch her favourite fighters under a weighted blanket to help get mentally prepared.

Favourite Quote: Resilience – Jamie Pittman.
“It’s so simple, which I love. But it is true. My ability to bounce back time and time again after years of injustices amazes me and has made me who I am.” MW

Rankings – as at Sep 2020

Snr National:          1

Jnr National:           1


Awards, Honours & Achievements

  • 2019: 64kg State Boxing Champion
  • 2019: 64kg National Boxing Champion
  • 2019: NAIDOC Sportsperson of The Year
  • 2018: AFLW Sportsperson of The Year
  • 2018: National Futures Team
  • Culture Is Life Ambassador
  • My Physio Evolution Sporting Star

Website | Instagram | Facebook | Hear from Marissa about receiving a Scholarship


Bio picture credit: SportsPics

Last updated 21/09/2020


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