Beneath the headline "Tell me: what,
what is your name?" (the title of a game show), La Voz del Interior
published on Thursday two photographs side by side: one, they told
us, was of a certain Carina (or Karine) De Souza, who was TKOd last
year by Patricia Quirico when the two met in San Carlos de Bariloche
in 2005, and the other, of the woman described as Liliane Balles,
who performed so lamentably ("giving the impression of never having
been in the ring before") against Carolina "Chapita" Gútierrez last
Saturday in Córdoba. After comparing video of the two fighters, the
paper was in no doubt that the two were in fact one and the same
person. Juan E. Brignone of Boxeo.org was of much the same opinion:
"If they aren't the same person," he concluded, "they are remarkably
Another who was adamant that they were in fact the same person, and
that the woman in the ring in Córdoba was not the Liliane Balles the
Argentinian public was led to believe they were watching, was
Patricia Quirico, who had fought both of them. "There's no way that
was Liliane Balles — at least, not the Liliane I fought in
Gualeguaychú (Entre Ríos). The girl fighting in Córdoba was Carina
De Souza, whom I fought in Bariloche over a year ago,” she declared.
The affair became public when a journalist asked Quirico, who lost
on points to Balles but TKOd De Souza in three: "How could you
possibly have lost to a no-hoper like that?" Her reply, of course,
was that she hadn't.
The obvious conclusion — certainly the one reached by most of the
Argentinian media — was that De Souza must have "stolen Balles's
identity" (as Infobae put it) and forged her documentation in order
to obtain a fight her record didn't warrant; but according to
today's La Voz del Interior, the truth is stranger still. "I went to
see her in her dressing room," recounts Daniel Bergher Fucs,
Vice-President of the Confederación Brasileña de Boxeo, "and began
speaking, but she didn't understand; she didn't understand
Portuguese, so I realized something was wrong. Then I asked her the
same question in Castillian. This time, she did understand."
Not only was the woman not Lillian Balles, who was at home in
Curitiba minding her own business, but she wasn't even Brazilian!
According to La Voz del Interior, her real identity is Karina Britos,
who until a few months ago lived in the barrio Cristo Rey of Posadas
(Argentina) before vanishing, leaving no forwarding address.
The documentation she was using in Córdoba was forged — that much is
clear — but the real scandal centres on the fact that "Chapita"
Gutiérrez herself fought a "Karine De Souza" as recently as December
last year. If it was the same woman, using a different alias, how
could she, and her manager, the highly-rated Carlos Tello (who
currently has four world champions under his charge), and Tello's
son, who was responsible for the undercard, not have recognized her?
Even if, as Tello maintains, her documents were forged, his claim
that "we, too, were deceived" seems pretty hard to swallow.
As of this morning, all three — along with Argentino García,
President of the Municipal Boxing Commission of Córdoba — were
sticking to the same story: the two women were not the same: the
woman Gutiérrez fought on Saturday was, as García put it, "15
centimetres shorter and a litle stockier than the one she fought in
December"; but whilst no photocopy of the documentation presented by
the woman who fought Gutiérrez in December has been retained ("It
wasn't necessary at that time," says Tello), there is a photo, and
it shows the fighter wearing the same outfit as that worn by Britos
on the one occasion she fought under her own name as an amateur.
The defence advanced by García and Tello that "her papers appeared
to be in order" and that they aren't trained to detect forgeries
(Roberto Vidal, the president of the boxing commission of Bariloche,
who approved the "De Souza"-Quirico fight, was the first to advance
that argument) is also open to objection on a number of counts: 1)
the name was spelt "Valles" instead of "Balles" on the papers
presented to the Córdoban boxing commission (a mistake only a
Spanish-speaker would make); 2) the logo of the AMB appeared on the
letterhead alongside that of the Confederación Brasileña de Boxeo
Profesional, which it ought not to have done; 3) the certificate was
signed by one Sergio Portugal (of whom no one has any knowledge); 4)
when La Voz del Interior tried the telephone number on the
letterhead, they were told it didn't exist; 5) the fighter's date of
birth was given there as 25th June 1982, whereas BoxRec gives
Lilliane Balles's date of birth as the 27th October 1977.
"We confirmed with the Brazilian Boxing Commission Balles's record
(5-3) and her date of birth (25-6-82)," claims García; but since
both details were wrong (Balles's true record is 1-3-0 according to
the sports daily Olé, which investigated the matter last week) you
have to wonder who on earth at the Brazilian Boxing Commission they
could have spoken to. One of the few facts known about Karina Britos
is that her promoter was one Victor Britos Zamudio (her uncle) and
that this gentleman, apparently, did not enjoy the finest of
reputations in Misiones when he lived there. Is it possible that the
fighter gave her uncle's number as that of the Brazilian Boxing
Commission and that he was the person waiting on the other end of
the line when Señor García phoned asking for confirmation?
We'll find out soon enough. The disciplinary tribunal of the
Federación Argentina de Boxeo (FAB) presided over by Aldo Fernández
is due to meet on Tuesday and can be expected to issue a statement.
The President of the FAB, Osvaldo Bisbal, was quoted by the
newspaper Clarín yesterday as saying: "The fighters themselves along
with the organizers and those who sanctioned this fight are going to
have to come in and face the music — and I don't think their claims
of innocence are going to wash." If convicted of complicity, the
fighter, her manager and the promoter all risk a twelve-month ban.
Yesterday, Tello told journalists that his fighter was "tranquil"
and that she needs to start focussing on her next fight. "For her,"
he maintained, "the whole experience was positive. It was just like
fighting any other opponent."
When she spoke to La Voz del Interior, though, the woman who once
said that fame was like a soap bubble seemed to be working herself
into something of a lather. "I didn't realize they were the same
person," she insisted. "In fact, I still think they weren't. I'm
very upset about what has happened because I had nothing to do with
it and now I'm getting calls from everyone under the sun. The people
responsible are the Córdoban boxing federation. They're the ones
that should have established the real identity of this person."
You have to wonder whether "this person", as Gutiérrez calls her,
might not be disturbed. "A Brazilian masquerading as a boxer," was
the sardonic term Juan E. Brignone used to describe her on Sunday —
little imagining that she wasn't Brazilian either! Emiliano Brescia
of Al Brode del Ring, who said her style was "more typical of a
street fight than boxing as a discipline ", found the first
knockdown comical: "The visitor charged forward clumily and Chapita
stepped smartly to the side, leaving her arm trailing, which Balles
ended up wearing" (they call that a "clothes-line" in wrestling);
but there was nothing funny about the second, the result of a blow
"delivered by the Argentinian with 100% efficiency that left her
opponent dazed for several minutes, not even knowing where she was."