Chantelle Cameron receives Freedom of Northampton

December 12 2023

Two Northampton sporting icons were awarded the Freedom of the Town during a special ceremony at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens this morning.

World Champion Boxer Chantelle Cameron and Northampton Saints and England rugby player Courtney Lawes are now an Honorary Freewoman and Freeman of the town, after receiving their awards from the Mayor of Northampton, Cllr Stephen Hibbert.

The granting of the Freedom of the Town is the highest honour a town council can bestow upon an individual, group, or organisation. The practice dates back to Medieval times and the title of ‘Freeman’ once allowed special privileges. In the modern day, it is a symbolic honour, with a ceremonial scroll presented and the names of Freemen and Freewomen listed at the town hall.

Today’s ceremony is a celebration of their significant contribution.

- Cllr Stephen Hibbert

Speaking at the event, Cllr Stephen Hibbert, the Mayor of Northampton, was full of pride in describing the athletes’ respective achievements.

“We are delighted to be able to honour not one, but two eminent athletes, who have excelled in their respective sports and put Northampton firmly on the map with their world-class achievements,” he said.

“Courtney Lawes is one of the most prolific international rugby players of our time and Chantelle Cameron is a World Champion fighter, shining a light on women’s boxing,” he continued.

“Today’s ceremony is a celebration of their significant contribution and an opportunity for young people to try these sports and hopefully be inspired for the future.”

“We are grateful to Northampton Saints for hosting us at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens – and also to Matchroom for organising the delivery of today’s boxing sessions.”

The event, organised in partnership with Northampton Town Council, Northampton Saints and boxing promoters Matchroom, also welcomed family and friends of the stars and students from selected primary and secondary schools across the town, who enjoyed rugby and boxing sessions and an audience with the famous new Freeman and Freewoman.

Chantelle Cameron

Chantelle Cameron is considered as one of the finest female pound-for-pound fighters in the world. She began her love affair with combat sports by taking up kickboxing at the age of 10.

After running out of opponents and titles, she switched over to boxing aged 18, training at the Far Cotton Boxing Club in Northampton. She quickly forged her reputation as one of Britain’s best- ever female boxers.

A former IBO world lightweight champion, Cameron moved up to super lightweight, claiming her first major championship by landing the coveted WBC belt.

She was crowned undisputed champion in November 2022 when she won the WBC, IBF, WBA and WBO world titles, then in May 2023, she celebrated the greatest win of her career with a majority points victory over Katie Taylor in Dublin to retain her titles.

A trilogy with Taylor could be on the cards for 2024, with Cameron looking to recapture the championships lost in November in Ireland when she was on the receiving end of a majority decision defeat.

I couldn’t be prouder.

- Chantelle Cameron

Reacting shortly after receiving her award, Cameron was keen to thank all of those that have supported her boxing journey.

“This is a massive honour. As someone who is born and bred in Northampton, this is a really special moment for me and my family. I couldn’t be prouder,” she beamed.

“Although the result didn’t go my way last month in Dublin, my dream is to fight here in Northampton for a world title in front of my home fans.”

“Thank you to the town council, the Mayor, Matchroom Boxing and everyone who has supported me every step of the way. I’ll be back with my belts very soon, I can promise you that.”

Courtney Lawes

Raised in Northampton, Lawes attended Northampton School for Boys and first played for Northampton Old Scouts Rugby Club, before rising through the Saints Academy ranks and making his club debut in 2007.

His senior England debut came in 2009 and Lawes represented England at four Rugby World Cups, helping them reach the final in 2019 and securing three Six Nations titles.

Along with two British and Irish Lions tours, he also captained England throughout the 2021/22 season and is one of only five Englishmen to be capped 100 times.

His world-class talent has been a constant at Northampton Saints, with more than 250 appearances to date in the club’s Black, Green and Gold jersey.

I feel honoured and very proud to be acknowledged in such a prestigious way.

- Courtney Lawes

“I feel honoured and very proud to be acknowledged in such a prestigious way in my hometown, which is also home to Saints – who I have played for throughout my career,” said Lawes, visibly delighted.

“I’m still excited to represent Northampton at club level and for what is yet to come for me on the pitch, but having recently retired from international rugby with England, this is a fitting way to mark the end of an era,” he continued.

“I’ve always just been myself throughout my rugby career, and I’m glad I’ve been able to put some smiles on people’s faces along the way.”

“It’s fantastic to have my friends, family, coaches and Saints teammates here with me today; these people have all been instrumental in my success, so to share this moment with them is very special.”

The Freeman roll, which is a historical record containing the names of individuals who hold the status in a town, has been kept in Northampton since the 12th to 13th centuries.

Lawes and Cameron join an illustrious list of Northamptonians who have become honorary Freemen and Freewomen of the town, including shoemaker Sir Philip Manfield, composer Malcolm Arnold and Princess Diana.