Although boxing, poverty and repression are often inter-linked we don't make a habit of talking about boxer's from North Korea. There is however one fighter who is, originally, from North Korea and is seriously worth talking about.
That is Hyun Mi Choi (10-0-1, 3) who successfully retained her WBA female Super Featherweight title earlier today with a dominating performance against Japanese veteran Chika Mizutani (14-5, 7).
Choi is one of the sports most amazing stories. As a young child she was spotted by the North Korean government who wanted to send her to the 2008 Olympics and gave her very special training. Soon after that training she, and her family, escaped from the North and went to South Korea where they began a new life and Choi quickly became one of the countries top amateurs.
Today Choi proved that she was one of the best professional fighters in female boxing as she thoroughly out boxed and out fought Mizutani in what proved to be a very one sided bout and high paced bout.
From the opening round Choi seemed too smart, too fast, too skilled and too accurate for Mizutani, who was often too brave for her own good. Time and time again the Japanese challenger walked into a stream of solid shots, including some beautiful uppercuts, and when Choi wanted to go forward she found it easy to march down the out-classed challenger.
Mizutani's did have her moments, such as through out round 2, though they were often over-shadowed by the work of the champion who scored a knock-down in round 2 and left Mizutani with a swollen face by the middle rounds.
By round 5 Mizutani was looking tired though gritted her teeth and had strong moments in round 8 as Choi herself began to look like the pace was getting to her. Sadly for Mizutani however was her last real success as Choi dominated the final couple of rounds and really tested the bravery and heart of the Japanese fighter who did well to see out the final bell.
When the cards were read there was no doubting who had won the bout, though for Choi this was just another chapter in her remarkable life and hopefully her great career continues as she acts as a figurehead for North Korean refugees in their nearest neighbour. For Mizutani however this will likely be the end, she can however take solace in the fact that she was beaten by a very, very good champion who who appears to be a fighter through and through.