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Germany:  Behind the Scenes with Raja Amasheh
Yvonne Caples
March 6, 2013

(MAR 6) The best part of women's boxing is the amazing individuals it attracts. Women with grit and grace who have busy lives outside of boxing, but are drawn to the sport despite the struggle it brings for these women warriors. This past weekend I had the opportunity to meet and spar with a top female flyweight boxer here in Germany, Raja Amasheh. The bubbly, petite Raja picked me up at the train station in Karlsruhe on Saturday morning and we headed to the gym she trains at Mach1 Kampsportschule under the tutelage of  Dominik Junge.  Junge has vast experience in the sport and has been a long time supporter of women's boxing. He was Regina Halmich's first trainer and currently works with Lucia Morelli who most recently won the WIBA, GBU and WBF World titles against Rola El-Halabi. He is tough on his fighters, but works tirelessly to get them good sparring, improve their weaknesses, and keep them busy with fights. Most recently he has begun working with Nadia Raoui. When we get to the gym, he is working mitts with Nadia, so Raja and I head to a back room to warm up.

Raja born in Ammad, Jordan on August 9, 1982 grew up in Berlin, Germany. She has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and completed her master's degree in the same discipline in 2011. She has lived in various cities in Austria and Germany, but currently resides in Karlsruhe. She makes a 45 minute commute to Mannheim each day where she works as a project lead and manager for the global pharmaceutical corporation, Roche. When asked how she balances the demands of work and training, Raja says that it requires a lot of coordination, planning and dedication to follow through.

Raja had an extensive kickboxing and amateur boxing career before turning to professional boxing in 2008. She started kickboxing in Salzburg, Austria in 2002 because she wanted to do sports and some of her friends were doing kickboxing. Raja competed as an amateur and professionally in kickboxing, K-1 and Thai Boxing having 50 fights. At the end of 4 years, Raja had several amateur kickboxing titles (in full contact, K-1, and Thai Boxing). As a professional, she won the WKA World Championship in full contact kickboxing in 2008 and has also won German and European titles in K-1. She started competing in amateur boxing in 2007. She had a total of 15 amateur fights (12-3-1) and was crowned the German Vice Champion in 2007 and 2008 in the light flyweight division. She started boxing professionally in 2008 fighting to a draw against undefeated junior flyweight, Oezlim Sahin who was 6-0 at the time. She began training with Dominik Junge after her first fight who she now considers her greatest supporter. Raja has since amassed a record of 14-0-1 with 3 knockouts and is the number 3 flyweight in Germany behind top competitors, Susi Kentikian and Nadia Raoui. She won the WBF Intercontinental title in October of last year. When asked what accounts for her success, she credits hard training and a lot of coordination between work, studies, and training. Junge credits her success to her determined, mental strength stating, "she is one of those rare fighters who performs better in a fight than training. She never gives up and it is not possible to break her mind." When asked what her goals are in boxing, Raja says, "World Champion, of course!"

I get the opportunity to experience first hand what this fierce competitor is all about in sparring on Saturday. I am pleasantly surprised that I can hang with Raja for the eight rounds of sparring that we do, though when she gets inside on me she is able to unleash a fury of punches that I have no answer for. It is a great experience for me as I had hoped to spar with a top professional while here in Germany, and Raja gets the new experience of sparring with a left-handed fighter with what she calls "an American style." Best of all, I am introduced to another amazing warrior in the wonderful world of women's boxing who is making her mark on the sport. Raja defends her WBF Intercontinental Title on Friday, March 8th against Corina Carlescu (8-5-1) at Saarlandhalle, Saarbruecken, Saarland, Germany. Tickets can be purchased at www.eventim.de.

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