Kina Malpartida: Peru’s Boxing Superstar

Ubat, Wikimedia Commons

Kina Malpartida is a big star in Peru and a big deal on the professional women’s boxing scene. In terms of popularity, she sits quite comfortably among the top five stars from the world of contemporary Peruvian sports, as well as being one of the most famous people from Peru on the world stage. Considering that Malpartida is one of very few world champions that Peru can currently lay claim to, her celebrity status is understandable and more than deserved...

Note: In January 2014, Kina Malpartida announced her retirement from professional boxing, but did not rule out a possible return in the future.

From the Beach to the Boxing Ring

Malpartida was born on March 25, 1980, in Lima, Peru. From day one, she seemed well-suited for a life of sport and celebrity. Her father, Oscar Malpartida, was a national surfing champion and a third-place World Championship finisher, while her mother, Susy Dyson, was a successful English supermodel who appeared on the covers of magazines such as Vogue and Vanity Fair.

Oscar Malpartida died in a skydiving accident at the age of 43, at which time Kina was already following in his sporting footsteps. In her early teens, Malpartida was practicing a number of sports including karate, soccer, tennis and basketball. It was surfing, however, that first took her to the heights of international competition.

In 1996, Malpartida claimed the Peruvian Surfing Champion title, defeating one of Peru’s other sporting icons, Sofia Mulanovich (who later became the Association of Surfing Professionals World Champion and a Surfing Hall of Fame inductee). She moved to Australia three years later (aged 19), where she continued to surf competitively while furthering her education.

Despite her surfing successes, Malpartida was still looking at other sports. She began training as a boxer in 2003; in line with her competitive personality, her aim was to become World Champion. After only a few months of concerted training, Malpartida fought her first professional fight in Australia. She won with a three-round unanimous decision, before going on to win four more professional bouts in Australia.

Peru’s Boxing World Champion

With big fight opportunities lacking in Australia, Kina decided to move to the USA. Between February 2006 and November 2008, she fought six times, recording three wins and three losses. Her first professional loss came against Miriam Nakamoto in April 2006. According to the Women Boxing Archive Network, “Malpartida was knocked down four times in this bout but still finished the fight on her feet.”

On February 21, 2009, Malpartida took her first swing at the then vacant World Boxing Association Super Featherweight title. Facing the undefeated Maureen Shea at Madison Square Garden in New York, the Peruvian grabbed her opportunity against the home favorite. She claimed the title with a technical knock-out in the tenth and final round.

Four months later, Malpartida returned to Peru for the first defense of her title. Fighting in front of an animated crowd in the Coliseo Eduardo Dibos Dammert in Lima, Kina successfully defended her title against the Brazilian Halana Dos Santos.

According to an article by Lucien Chauvin (“In Peru Sports, Men Bumble, And Women Shine”) for the Time website, “The Malpartida-Dos Santos bout attracted the largest single TV audience in the country's viewing history. At one point, two-thirds of the viewing audience was watching the fight.”

Malpartida’s Celebrity Status in Peru

Since her first defense in Lima, Malpartida has fought on four more occasions, winning each fight. Three of those fights took place in Peru, helping to cement Kina’s reputation as one of Peru’s true sporting stars.

Malpartida’s road to celebrity status has had a few bumps along the way. In June 2012, she was pulled over by police in Barranco, Lima, and found to be driving under the influence of alcohol. She pleaded guilty, after which she had her licence suspended for 12 months, received a fine of 1,800 nuevos soles and community service.

On a more positive note, Malpartida remains highly active with a number of charity organizations. Her main areas of focus include helping disadvantaged children and promoting women’s welfare in Peru. She has also been involved with a nation-wide anti-bullying campaign.

Malpartida’s status a role model, especially for Peruvian women, remains as strong as it ever was. Despite not being able to compete in the 2012 London Olympics due to her professional status, Kina was given the honor of carrying the Olympic torch through the streets of Oxford on its journey to the capital.

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