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In Mongolia, the Boxing Banker Keeps Punching

Beavers, right, faces off against local favorite, Myagmasuren, who comes from Mongolia's Govi-Sumber province.
Charlie Mayer, NPR
Beavers, right, faces off against local favorite, Myagmasuren, who comes from Mongolia's Govi-Sumber province.

Banker Ella Beavers had her colleagues wondering about the black eye she brought to work one day. "It was hard to hide… but I managed," the 31-year-old Albanian-born banker says. Her co-workers soon learned the reason for the injury: her newfound passion for boxing.

Beavers lives in Mongolia, where she came to work with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. She started boxing a year ago at the Central Sports Palace in downtown Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital. She wanted to find a physical outlet to match the challenges of her professional life.

Word of her first match spread like supercharged gossip through the small expatriate community of Ulaanbaatar. For many people, this was the biggest social event of the week -- if not the entire winter.

At least a dozen of Beavers' colleagues from Khan Bank, where she now works, packed into a corner of the gym. At the end of three rounds, Beavers won her first fight by a decision.

Two days after her first victory, Beavers fought again and won. She lost her third fight -- in the championship round -- to the impressive kick boxer and four-time champion Munkhjargal. Beavers earned a silver medal and 8,000 Mongolian tugrugs in prize money. That's less than $7.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Charlie Mayer