Neighbourhood of Patisia -located 15 minutes away
from the city center- is an open place which brings a sense of
community into the normal chaos of Athens. Taking the day off
from her practice, Christina took a walk with me through her
neighborhood down the Patision Street, one of the major and
busiest roads of central Athens.
“Aren't you afraid? Even a little bit? I googled
your opponent and she seemed dangerous like a beast!"
I started the conversation in a raw manner trying
to provoke her.
"She is the one who has to be afraid...Because if
she is a beast I am a reptile and as you know the venom of black
mamba can instantly bring death from paralysis..."
Christina replied laughing, as she kept quoting
It is hard to figure Christina's low key
personality as "La mamba Negra" -her boxing nickname- the
unbeatable professional boxer and entitled International
champion (UBF) who is going to claim the WBC world lightweight
title against the 4 times word champion Delfine Persoon from
Christina Linardatou Duran, 27, grew up in the Dominican
republic. Her father was a Greek sailor and by the age of 10 she
moved with her family to Greece. As she traveled from a place to
an other, Christina, a highly energetic kid being used to run
barefoot by the river in her birth country, could not acclimate
at first in the city and as she was bullied for being a colored
"chubby" girl, soon her energy turned into spells of violent
The family was advised to channel her energy into
sports, and when she moved in Patisia Christina excelled at
boxing, dominating easily the local scene. She returned for one
year in her birth country where she won the national title and
then she came back to Athens achieving her first international
tile in England.
In Santo Domingo (the capital of Dominican
republic) where she first grew up, boxing is a national sport,
something like a ritual of the earliest childhood but most
important is an effective path out of poverty. Millions of kids
without shoes are being trained on the cement by sharing the
shame pair of boxing gloves dreaming of the great escape to US
Municipal stadium of "Sporting club" in Patisia
has been famous for hosting wrestling extravaganzas in the 70s
and 80s but boxing and especially women's boxing is not a
custom around here.
“Here boxing is more of a male sport hobby. I've
always loved playing football in the streets but boxing was a
rare or an unusual thing for a girl to do so when I decided to
get into that, I knew first I had to earn it from my parents.
Women in boxing don't have equal chances alike in everything in
a male -dominated society and I believe that step by step this
can be changed. In Dominican republic I was sparring only with
men inside an old gym and I got trained well competing against
the best of them. I became a fighter, am a woman and now this is
considered to be “normal” because I said so and I fought hard
for it. Now everybody not only accepts it without second thought
but they also dig it...“
She concludes offering an innuendo about men
Domestic violence and violence against women have
increased significantly in the late years but hopefully more and
more girls and women are practicing martial arts and self
defense techniques to fight back.
"As a woman I don't know if practicing martial
arts will put you instantly out of trouble on the street. As a
pro boxer, it took me years of hard mental and physical training
to reach the point of effectiveness and I still know that If
something happens out there I will try to survive by any
means. The basic thing for women is not to get panicked, never
to give up, to make a warrior out of themselves starting from
the mind, to share experiences, to know that they will not be
left alone if something bad going to happen."
Since the mid 90s neighborhood of Patisia has
been a host of African communities and within the years has been
inhabited by many different other immigrant cultures along with
the traditional Greek middle bourgeoisie class. Still a safe
open place into the social frenzy of the late economic and
We take a ride around the "Fix" Park , named
after the famous brewery factory that was built there 100 years
ago when Patisia was a provincial suburb of Athens. Now the only
remains consist of the family ownership abandoned aristocratic
cottage rumored to be have been designed by Ernst Ziller. The
last years "Fix" park has hosted various anti-racist festivals
and actions organized by citizens. Now during the night around
this place female sex workers from Africa make their night
shift...Νο safe place for foreign women.
"Things have been in tense last years and you can
always see around this type of social hierarchy: first come the
natives and the European-looking white people, then the mongrel,
then the Africans, and at last people who come from the deep
East as they have totally different culture.Women ofcourse are
the most vulnerable.
I have been in many places in Greece and in every
school I had to give a major fight to impose myself but after
that everything was OK and I truly believe that here the society
is still open and people are well coming. As a mongrel who grew
up here I don't have any problems, Ι feel more than welcomed. Of
course the last decade racism has advanced but at least around
here for every racist person there are 5 more who will shut him
down instantly. I love Patisia, as people from all countries are
gathered here and nobody thinks that this is strange. I don't
have much time to go out but Ι like the cafes, the music, the
African and Latin music bars."
We take the way back as Christina has to rest for
the upcoming training day. She seems cool and relaxed.
“Overcoming the fear of a loss is what usually
takes down a boxer. Have you been thinking about it?
I restate my first question in a serious manner.
"I wont forget that the first time I got into an
official boxing fight and I was so nervous about exposing myself
to the crowd that during the warm up I hided myself in the back.
Manos my manager-trainer quickly took notice and instantly
brought me at the front spot so that anybody could see me. I did
that and I never returned back. Every person has a lot of fears
especially those who one way or an other feel different but
first you need to fight the fear and to work in discipline.
I know that is something stereotypical to say,
but for me everything is like being inside the ring: If I ever
get down I won't panic and I will get up sooner or later. In the
future years I don't know how my boxing career will end. All
that I know is that I have the ability to control my fears and I
might pave the way for other women and people to do what they
want - as many other did before me- and this is the most
important. You just need to keep fighting"
Story and Photos by: Zak Varvaresso
First published by Humba magazine, Issue 24, June of 2016