House blaze 'fuel to the fire' for US boxer Jones

The 23-year-old has previously spoken of how boxing is a lifeline for vulnerable young people in the town of Toledo.

US boxer Oshae Jones advances to Welterweight Semifinals. Picture: @boxingscene/Twitter.

TOKYO - US boxing semifinalist Oshae Jones narrowly escaped with her life when her house burned down five days before she learned she was going to the Tokyo Olympics but the welterweight said on Friday that the experience had just added "fuel to the fire" in her fight for gold.

Jones, guaranteed a medal after beating the Dominican Republic's Maria Moronta 4-0, was only alerted to the blaze by the shouts of her "nosy" neighbours in her Ohio hometown, trying to wake her up to get out.

"If I was in any other neighbourhood, where people mind their business, I would be dead," she told reporters after the bout.

The 23-year-old has previously spoken of how boxing is a lifeline for vulnerable young people in the town of Toledo, where she bought the house with her boyfriend.

"It was a fixer-up, but we were almost done, so now we're starting over," she said.

It's been a tough year for Jones, who escaped the fire in May just five days before her place in Team USA was confirmed.

"With the Olympics being postponed a whole other year, and me losing 60% to 80% of my things, it was just fuel to the fire, literally, to me to keep pushing."

She said her "game plan" on Friday had been to lure Moronta in and then turn her, "so she could just run into all my punches".

Jones faces China's Hong Gu on August 4 for a place in the final and is "going for gold", she said, visualising herself on the podium and practicing her victory speech every day.

Work on her charred home is now "coming together slowly but surely", she said.

"It's always in the back of my mind... but all I can do is give it my best here, and maybe that can contribute to my home."

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