FORMER Olympic boxer Natasha Jonas believes there are girls in Bolton who can follow in her footsteps in the sport.

The 33-year-old who fought for Team GB in London 2012 is now based in the town after teaming up with renowned trainer Joe Gallagher at Amir Khan's Academy.

And, like fellow former Olympian Khan, she is targeting the top and a world title shot in 2018.

But as well as her own personal hunger for glory in the rapidly growing sport of women's boxing, the Liverpudlian also wants to inspire the next generation of young girls and show they can succeed in the fight game.

Speaking exclusively to The Bolton News, Jonas said: "The Olympic idea was to leave a legacy and I don’t think until I left amateur boxing and had my break I realised how big the Olympics in 2012 was for women’s boxing.

"Now it is rising fast and I can appreciate what everyone did for the sport.

"Boxing on a whole is underrepresented for me in the media so the more we can get it out there, particularly women’s boxing, the more it will help.

"If one young girl in Bolton watches me and it inspires her then I will be happy.

"I don’t go out to be a role model but if it happens like that it is pleasing.

"For a long time the only people I knew were the likes of Laila Ali and Jane Couch and now there are a lot of female boxers out there.

"I’m sure young girls looking to get into the sport look up to us now.

"It shows how much it is growing."

Jonas joined Gallagher's camp last year and since turning professional, the super featherweight has registered four successive wins.

She is enjoying learning alongside Gallagher's male professionals like Anthony Crolla and fellow Liverpudlians Callum, Liam and Stephen Smith.

The aim for 2018 is a title shot and ultimately a showdown with Olympic rival Katie Taylor – the Irish boxer who beat her in the quarter-finals in 2012.

Jonas said: "There are a lot of potential fights out there for me.

"This year is about working towards a world title shot.

"There are big fights out there such as Katie Taylor and there are more women opponents out there now.

"I am enjoying working with Joe.

"It is a lot different to the amateur game.

"Every fight I am getting better at something else.

"I think with me here there are now officially more Scousers than Mancs in the gym.

"I have known a lot of the lads for a long time like the Smiths who are from my old amateur gym.

"The lads are great with me and it’s a great set-up.

"When I first started out, you felt like you had to prove yourself as a female.

"But how far I got in the amateur game I don’t need to do that anymore.

"I settled in here in Bolton quickly and we all drive each other on."

Gallagher is equally happy to have Jonas on board and also believes she can inspire youngsters looking to take up the sport.

He added: "Women’s boxing is booming and amateur gyms are full of girls boxing now which is good.

"It’s important to get kids in the gyms and off the Xbox and doing some exercise and Natasha can be a role model.

"She is doing really well – she has boxed at York Hall and Liverpool's Echo Arena and the dream of a big fight against Katie Taylor is on for Natasha."