Inna Shevchenko fights in the heaviest women category – over 81kg. She is The Ukrainian boxing champion-2008, silver medalist of the European championships-2008, seven-time Ukrainian champion, the winner of the World kickboxing Cup. She has won 50 out of 70 bouts. She works equally by both arms. Currently, Inna is a student of Dnepropetrovsk Physical education Institute. Her major is Olympic boxing.
This young female heavyweight boxer just turned 18. Being so young, Inna Shevchenko from Dnepropetrovsk managed to win a lot of title – on the Ukrainian and international rings. After a final gong is heard, when exhausting contests are over, she changes from a purposeful athlete thinking only about the victory by any means - to a normal person, a beautiful young girl. That's how she appeared during the interview with the Ukrainian web magazine Turnir.
What the reason you have chosen so (to put it mildly) non-feminine occupation? How your parents reacted on your decision?
My mom, of course, was against my ardor which became a passion. Especially she was anxious when I returned from competitions. It was hard for her to see my battered face. My dad was calmer. He was often with me on many competitions; he supported me as much as my trainers.
On your opinion, what is the major difference between men's boxing and women's boxing?
I thing the main difference is that female boxing is much more emotional. And therefore it is more attractive for spectators. And I would say it is more brutal. If two female opponents are engaged in the ring, they will fight until bleeding.
What can you cay about the level of Ukrainian female boxing?
During last years, women's boxing has developed substantially. Suffice it to say that the number of participants in national championships has increased from 20-30 to 60-100.
Prominent Russian boxer Natalya Rogozina once said that women's boxing is an extravagant ardor of crazy ladies. Do you agree with that?
(Laughing) I think it hits the mark! Why? How it is possible that a normal woman would agree to get her nose regularly beaten?! No, just crazy woman would agree...
Is it possible that honoraria in women's boxing will ever approach ones in men's boxing?
Unfortunately, this difference is still significant. I wish women could earn more. For the time being, we have to rely on such nice people as "Dinamo-Sileir" club president Tatiana Selikhova who helps me to cover my expenses for tournaments.
Recall your very first boxing match. How it was?
I have a double impression from my very first bout. I won the bout but I got too many heavy blows – after the match my both eyelids were swollen.
Did you have opponents who got your punches like an impenetrable wall?
Of course I did! There have been a lot of such opponents, especially when I practiced kickboxing. She was heavier than me and blows which would destroy an equal girl, seemed to be a light slaps.
What is your most efficient technique on the ring against opponents?
A detached onlooker would know better. I think I am quite fast for a heavyweight .and I move intensively on the ring, so my opponents doesn't feel comfortable. As far as punches are concerned, I prefer a right jab.
Any athlete has ups and downs. Did you have them?
Certainly, I had bad moments in my boxing career. For instance, on a tournament in Russia I happened to fight with a Turk. I lost her completely; I didn't see anything around except a white towel my trainer threw on the ring. I wanted to continue the bout but I wasn't allowed. I cried asking to let me continue but nobody supported me. After this crushing defeat, I made conclusions and began training with triple energy. After all, I became a champion of Ukraine. Defeats are helpful; they discipline you and show your weaknesses.
Have you ever a feeling – after a defeat - to quit boxing and start doing something else, like growing tomatoes?
In fact, after defeats I feel more determination to continue my fighting practice. I wanted to improve myself in order to win next time.
However, once I seriously considered quitting boxing. I was 14 or 15 then. Being extremely busy, I didn't have a chance to find friends. I stopped working in the gym for a while. But I missed the gloves and the ring and returned. Since then it have never happened again.
How do you get ready for bouts, how do you observe your opponents?
Usually, I listen to music. Some melodies help me make up my mind. It may be different music.
I come to know an opponent's tricks watching her previous bouts. I also do visual assessment – I review her build, arm length, etc. I try to imagine how she acts in a real fight. Sometimes I have guessed right, sometimes my trainer helps me.
Do you usually underestimate or overestimate your opponents?
I think, overestimate. Underestimated might cause a big trouble. It is better to prepare to a bout as seriously as possible, to learn everything about the opponent rather than to turn out to be unprepared. Actually, I like to impose my will on my opponents. But they may be different, sometimes very strong.
What is training for you?
Training is a tool to achieve goals. I thing the more time you spend on training, the less you bleed during fights.
Do you have a role model in boxing?
In men's boxing I like the styles of Roy Jones and Mohammad Ali. In women's boxing, it is Leila, the daughter of Mohammad Ali. I had a dream to fight against Leila Ali. But it is not going to happen – female boxing legend is going to hook her gloves.
Did you spar with men? How did they go?
Yes, it happened. But only on trainings. It is very difficult to withstand a man – they excel women in key boxing capabilities. Their punches are much heavier. But sometimes I successfully hit back.
What are your goals in boxing?
The main goal for any athlete – to participate in Olympics and win a medal. I'd like to win a World Cup.
What are your immediate tasks in boxing?
One of my immediate tasks is to save the title of Ukrainian champion. I hope I will remain invincible!
Inna and her trainer
Photo from website RicUA