Butterflies flying in a boxing ring

April 6, 2023

“Butterflies flying in a boxing ring,” that's how fighters move. Daria Kozorez from Tiraspol is convinced of that. She will soon open a modern boxing gym, with the support of the European Union through the Confidence Building Measures programme, implemented by UNDP.

Daria is 21 and she has been playing sports for as long as she can remember. At 16, she has decided to become a professional sportswoman. A boring vacation made her look for some occupation for her spare time: "I used to play basketball, but unfortunately the courses were closed. I was always more active and decided to try something else. My coach Anatolie came and said: 'Join boxing classes!' I was thinking that being a girl, there was no place for me in boxing world and I would attend 2-3 classes and drop out, but I am still here."

Daria doesn’t speak much, because she prefers to demonstrate her performance in the ring, not through words, she says. Daria's medal haul includes a gold medal from the European Boxing Championship, a silver medal from the World Youth Boxing Championship and four bronze medals. Each of these medals was obtained through hard work and two daily training sessions. 

"The first international competition I participated in was in Bulgaria. Everything was new to me, I was very excited, I was in a new country; I had never visited another foreign country before. Everything was so beautiful and green; I saw the sea for the first time then, it was amazing and in the first round, I performed very well, then the emotions overwhelmed me in the second round. That time I took third place, I got the bronze medal," recalls Daria. 

"Then I went to another boxing championship in another weight class and there I took first place. I was so determined: I wanted to be the first! So, I trained hard, I pursued this aspiration and that's how I became a champion and then I went to the world junior championship and there I got the silver medal," says Daria.

“Boxing became my family”

Daria trains at least four hours a day. Of all exercises, she most enjoys improving her defensive techniques and fighting an imaginary competitor. After thousands of workouts, she has learned that in a boxing ring you need to “fly” so that a real or imaginary competitor cannot catch you.

"Girls are strong by their nature. Men are not the only strong ones. Women have the right to train and most importantly, to know how to defend themselves; they just should not be afraid and should try," states Daria.

Daria belongs to the heavy weight class in boxing (81-91 kg). The young woman aims to “tame” this tough sport so that amateurs strengthen their stamina and physical energy. That is how her business idea was born.

In the spring of 2022, Daria was awarded a €15,000 grant from the EU's Confidence Building Measures Programme, implemented by UNDP. With these funds, she will open a gym equipped with a boxing ring, punching bags, kettlebells, fitness equipment, etc. 

In the new gym, Daria will be coaching children and teenagers, as well as other willing people. 

"It's the same in life as in boxing. In the ring, we encounter problems, failures, traumas and in life, there are similar situations, like problems in the family or with friends or at work; and sport, especially boxing, helps. You punch the heavy bag and discharge emotions and then you come home with a peace of mind," that is how Daria hopes to convince more young people to join boxing classes.

"Through my example, I will demonstrate to girls in particular that they should not be afraid, they just have to be open, ambitious."
Daria Kozorez

13 other young entrepreneurs like Daria Kozorez have been selected through a competition by the European Union Confidence Building Measures Programme, implemented by UNDP, to launch or develop a business.