In the fourth part of the series about personal durability we meet the former boxer Klara Svensson, who talks about the importance of working systematically without making excuses. Klara recently finished her career as a professional boxer and has begun a new career as a sole business owner. She joined during the Swedish final of The Creative Business Cup on the 12th March to share her experiences with entrepreneurs. An athlete must be prepared to constantly think and rethink in order to be successful – and the same is true for someone that runs a startup. Klara Svensson has gone from being part of a team to training alone as a professional boxer with an emphasis on the individual.
Klara Svensson has recently ended her career as a boxer. As an amateur she won several Swedish Championship gold medals, and a total of five silver and bronze at the World and European Championships. She fought in twenty fights as a professional boxer and won five titles, including winning the WBC interim welterweight title and light-welterweight.
Klara Svensson – you have experience being both an entrepreneur and athlete. Is it easier for athletes to put themselves at the center?
– As an athlete you often need to be selfish, but many people respect that because athletes have clear goals. As an entrepreneur it can be more difficult, but even as an entrepreneur you must be able to demand a lot from yourself and your surroundings.
How do you handle pressure?
– I have been under pressure many times. In professional boxing a fight can be very crucial for survival. I remember early on in my career seeing Armand Krajnc at a gala and I was nervous to see him alone in the big arena and by how much focus there was on him. But attention is something that you grow into and mature to. One method can be mental training and to prepare yourself by questioning what will happen if the match goes to hell. The world actually goes on.
How have you handled injuries and illness and what has it taught you?
– I have not had too many injuries, but I often became sick during hard training periods prior to big matches. Now in hindsight I can see that should have trained differently and demanded a different training schedule. It is difficult to appreciate this when you feel a lot of stress to get in shape and have many workouts to cope with. As an entrepreneur it is important to identify where the energy is and to see how it can be distributed in the long run. It is important to know yourself and to stop basing yourself off other people’s agenda. We are all different and it can be good to dare to step outside the box.
You have told us that your trainer worked according to certain guidelines – what significance has this had on you?
– My trainer was principled and disciplinary, and it takes clear leaders to move forward. I learned to never lie or be dishonest with training and that it takes patience to become good. It is important to work in a systematic way without making excuses or dodging responsibility.
As a professional boxer you are often on your own without teammates. What has it been like to work alone?
– Ever since I turned professional, I have trained alone. I knew that I did not have any teammates to hide behind. I have grown into the notion that I have to deliver and that is part of the charm of it. It is both demanding and wonderful to be solely responsible.
You have recently retired as a boxer. How should you prepare yourself for life after sport?
– In Sweden we are generally bad at taking care of former elite athletes. We don’t have that culture. I had aspirations and plans, and early on got an assignment in the media. Both as an athlete and as an entrepreneur it is good to have a plan B, or else the uncertainty can cause stress. And that’s not good if you, as an entrepreneur, have a constant fear of bankruptcy and panic.
The Creative Business Cup is an international competition, but the 2020 final that was due to be held in Copenhagen has since been cancelled. The Swedish final was held in March 2020 with xPlot as a form of collaboration with Lund Municipality and Future by Lund. Ahead of the Swedish final of the Creative Business Cup, four representatives with experience from elite sports helped to inspire the entrepreneurs with the way they approach and think of performance. In the panel were William Seth-Wenzel, World and European Champion in jujutsu and student at KTH; Susanne Gunnarsson, with a total of 17 World Championship or Olympic medals in canoeing and now working as a coach, lecturer and treatment assistant; and Rob Haans, with several individual World Championship medals and now the coach of the Swedish Jujutsu Federation. Joining via video link was Klara Svensson, former professional boxer with several World Championship titles and now a self-employed business owner. The debate was led by Jakob Wikenstål with both an academic degree in sports management and experience as an entrepreneur through the job platform Sportidealisten.
The discussion came to be about what it is like to deliver every day to maintain forward momentum and stick to your big goals and dreams. It was also about how to work for the team to function, but also daring to be selfish and clear when asking for help to get what you really need.
Translation: Ben Dohrmann