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Onward Christian
By Ewan Whyte
May 15, 2007


"We would like to draw your attention to the debut of a future world champion -- and by 'future' we mean the not-too-distant future," runs a note on the web site Boxeo Uruguayo announcing this Friday's La noche del futuro  bill in the Palacio Peñarol in Montevideo: "Chris Namús, a spectacular boxer, now 19 years of age."

Many column inches, as it happens, have already been devoted to the 19-year-old welterweight, who is spectacular in more ways than one.

Christian Namús – the acute accent on the 'u' is dropped by some sources (one even substituting a German umlaut), whilst 'Christian' (and therefore 'Chris') are spelt by others without the 'h' – has been practicing the martial arts since she was 6 but only came to boxing at the age of 16 when she was spotted working the bag to lose a few kilos (to date: 11) by Antonio Canedo, who now trains her.

A few weeks later, she found herself in the ring in the Parque Hotel facing a woman called Ana Martínez. "It was an exhibition scheduled for three rounds," remembers Namús, "but, without meaning to, I knocked her out in the third round. I had a considerable advantage in weight; but then, she'd had seven years of training to my three months." A brief but successful career under Uruguayan colours followed in the amateurs, interlarded with further exhibitions – in some cases against men.

Then came what was certainly no exhibition. As part of an evening of boxing in the Palacio Peñarol attended by the President of the Uruguayan Republic (and all the fervour of an international), Namús disputed the first of the evening's four Uruguay v Argentina bouts with one Nara "La India" Mastandrea.

Like her opposite number from across the River Plate, Mastandrea was in the last year of high school preparing for university entrance, and it was reported erroneously that both girls were making their professional debuts; but whereas the Uruguayan from La Teja / Belvedere (Montevideo) was planning to become a forensic scientist, the sights of the Argentinian from Villa Lugano (reported Jorge Savia of El País) were set on a doctorate in law.

At 68.2 kg, the Argentinian girl outweighed her opposite number by over three kilos, whilst the Uruguayan had height and reach on her side; and at first, the fight fell into a predictable pattern, with the taller girl content to pick off her more powerful opponent with the jab – followed, as often as not, with a straight right – and the latter hoping to surprise her, and put her on the seat of her pants, with a right cross. As the round wore on, though, without ever losing her line, the Uruguayan became more aggressive, and began spending longer and longer in the danger zone before pulling back to a safe distance, with the result that the second minute saw a number of drawn-out exchanges in the course of which the two girls went at it, as Savia put it, "as though at war".

The Argentinian was tough, according to Boxeo Uruguayo, but Namús had the beating of her, and began tightening her grip in the second round. The signs of despair at her own impotence and the effects of the pounding she was taking could be seen by all as Mastandrea received her second protective count of the round, and with the crowd, sensing the imminence of the first Uruguayan victory of the night, now willing her to victory, Namús, unaffected by the euphoria at ringside, responded by tightening her grip still further – coolly, as though tightening a noose – increasing not the tempo but the accuracy of her punching as the big girl's resistance grew feebler, and finishing her off with forensic precision and a succession of clean shots to the face that obliged the referee, Martín Carnevale, to stop the fight (RSCH Rd. 2).

There was a further exhibition in March, in preparation for this week's professional debut. This time there was no international element but the level of intensity was much the same – at least in the second round, when her opponent, Erondina Tabárez, who, under the capable direction of Ramón Barrero had displayed good technique in the first round (though the more accurate punching of the girl from La Teja was even then taking its toll), lost her composure and began charging her tormentor as though it were a bullfight. With her faster footwork and quicker, harder hands, Namús was soon all over her, and this time it was Aníbal Andrade, refereeing, that was forced to halt the massacre.

There is little, alas, in the record of Friday's opponent, who we learn today will be Guillermina Fernández (though on Monday we were promised María Eugenia López (19)), to indicate that she will fare any better: Fernández, who is 47 and hails from Buenos Aires, calls herself The Amazon and likes running (as rivers do), but besides giving away 28 years (and, at only 5'4", a good deal of height) to her Uruguayan opponent, she will be carrying the baggage of 5 losses (a KO, 2 TKOs and 2Uds) in as many fights – the kind of experience that is no help at all – and Namús, now (according to the most recent profile) in her first year of medical school and spending most of her time, I expect, dissecting corpses, may find her sporting and academic lives taking on an eerie similarity.

Christian Namús is the first born-and-bred Uruguayan girl to swell the professional ranks. "In honour of her debut," according to the announcement, "ladies – if accompanied by a gentleman – will be admitted free."

They may need strong stomachs.


Photo links (all Boxeo Uruguayo)


Christian Namús :-


Speed kills

Red tape

Marching as to war




Nara Mastandrea v Christian Namús

Christian Namús v Erondina Tabárez


Sources: Boxeo Uruguayo, El País Digital, La República

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