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A South Korean Teenage Boxer Becomes World Champion

Posted December. 19, 2004 22:55,   


She had to postpone the world junior championship because she could not find a sponsor, and because there were not enough spectators, many matches had to be open to the public free of charge.

She had to delay her collegiate studies in order to become the world champion. She had run relentlessly and was beaten up so many times. Her body was full of bruises after 300 rounds of sparring and 1,500 kilometers of roadwork. It was a life completely different from any girl at her age would have led.

And she sent all those hardships away with one big punch.

Kim Ju-hee, an 18-year-old boxer who was rather known for her girlish look, became the youngest female boxer ever to become world’s boxing champion on Sunday. In a match up held on Sunday at Shingu College Stadium, Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, Kim outlasted U.S. champion Melissa Shaffer, 26, on points to win the International Female Boxers Association (IFBA) flyweight title. All three judges gave points in favor of Kim: 100-90, 99-91, and 100-89.

With this victory, Kim became the second South Korean female world champion boxer, and first teenage world champion. Her lifetime record is seven wins, including three knockdown wins, one tie, and one loss in nine bouts. Her lone loss came when she was in her second year of high school on November 2002 when she was playing against Lee in the flyweight Korean championship. Shaffer, who had been unbeaten, now has eight wins, including five KOs and one loss.

Kim, who was four centimeters taller than Shaffer, took advantage of her height, long arms, and speedy footwork and jabbed at Shaffer’s face with her left hand from the beginning of the game. Shaffer’s concentration was shaken after she had a nosebleed in the third round, and Kim managed the game with ease to grab the champion’s belt.

Kim, shedding tears after the match, said that she is so happy to have achieved her goal of becoming the world champion before reaching the age of 20. She said that she wants to be recognized for her ability rather than her good looks from now on.

Kim Messer, former IFBA world boxing titleholder and currently Shaffer’s trainer, who was adopted to an American family after being born between a Korean mother and a former USFK soldier father, said that Kim is a great boxer, and with her speed and power, she can compete at the World Championship level.

Hwan Soo Zang zangpabo@donga.com