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Duda with title belt
© Copyrighted photo taken by Otavio Dias

5'6" welterweight Duda "The Cameleon" Yankovich was born Dusica Yankovich on September 27, 1976 in the small city of Jagodina, Yugoslavia (now Serbia and Montenegro),

Duda was interested in sports and got involved with Martial Arts at an early age. She trained in Karate (Shotokan-ITKF) from age 11 to 18, competing at both the junior and adult levels while still a junior. She earned her Black Belt at age 14, becoming the youngest Black Belt in Serbia. Between the ages of 16 and 18,, Duda was part of the National female team. In April 1994, She competed in the European Championship in the City of Prague, Czech Republic, taking second place and winning a silver medal. In May of the same year, Duda took third place and won the bronze metal in the Junior World Championship in Zakopane, Poland.

Duda began taking kickboxing training (WAKO Federation), and quickly became a national champion at 135 lbs., for the first time in 1996 and again in 1997, 1998, and 1999.  During that time, Duda also competed in the 1996 European championships in Yugoslavia, the 1997 world championships in Poland, the 1998 European championships in Germany), and the 1999 world championships in Italy.  In April 1998, Duda became the Mediterranean Champion and a month later, champion of Balkans in Kickboxing/Full Contact.

Duda kicks1999 brought war to Belgrade. After 77 days of war, the situation in the country was not good for sports, so Duda decided  - after almost a year of waiting - to move out of her native country.  She had won two fights in Brazil in January 1998, and had made some contacts there. Duda decided to move to Brazil, and became the Brazilian kickboxing champion in 2001, 2002, and 2003.

She won the gold medal in the 2000 Pan-American open amateur kickboxiing championship, and gold medals in the South American Amateur Kickboxing Championship in both 2001 and 2003.

Duda got involved in amateur boxing in 2003. A coach from one of the Brazilian national male teams saw her in an exhibition match and invited her to train as a boxer. Duda went on to become the Brazilian 140-lb amateur boxing champion for the first time in 2002, then repeated her success in 2003 and 2004. 

As Duda did not have many opportunities to fight as a kickboxer, she decided to switch her focus to boxing, and gradually stopped kickboxing.  She was the only female athlete approved to spend ten months training in the Brazilian men's training camp. She also spent four months with the team of ex-world junior lightweight and lightweight boxing champion Acelino Freitas.

In March of 2005, Duda represented Brazil in the First Pan-American female boxing amateur championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She took third place and a bronze medal in the 138-lb division, losing in the semi-final by 24-11 to Canadian champion, and also world champion, Katie "Silence" Dunn.

After this, Duda accepted an invitation to turn professional. 

She made her pro debut on July 23, 2005 at Gimnásio Municipal, Embú das Artes in São Paulo, Brazil, against Guillermina "La Amazona" Fernandez of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Duda won by a KO in the fourth round of a scheduled four-rounder. Fernandez, who was returning to the ring after a 5-year absence, fell to 0-2.

On October 29, 2005, in São Paulo, Brazil, Yankovich (141 lbs) stopped Sandra Santos (139 lbs) at 0:42 into the first round of a scheduled four-rounder. Santos was making her pro debut.

On May 13, 2006, at Conjunto Desportivo Baby Barione in São Paulo, Brazil, on the undercard, Yankovich (139¼ lbs)  won by KO over Angie Paola Rocha (136½ lbs) of Colombia at 0:42 seconds in the fourth round. Rocha fell to 3-3-1 (0 KO's) with the loss.

On August 11, 2006 in Brazil, Yankovich won the 63.5-kg national Brazilian professional title when she TKO'd Leticia Rojo at 1:12 in the fifth round.  The fight was scheduled for six rounds.

On August 26, 2006, in Santo Andre, Brazil, Yankovich (141 lbs) improved her chances of obtaining a world title fight when she stopped unbeaten Gabriela Marcela “La Aventurera" (The Mercenary) Zapata (141 lbs)  of Capitán Bermúdez, Argentina in the second round. According to Brazilian sources, the fight, which was dominated by Yankovich, was stopped by referee Denis Sponton with the Argentinian bleeding profusely from her nose. Zapata fell to 4–1 (3 KO's) with the loss. 

On September 30, 2006 at Companhia Athletica Brooklin in São Paulo, Brazil, Yankovich won by a six-round majority (59-57,58-58,59-56) decision over Silvia Zacarias, who was making her pro debut. 

On November 25, 2006 at Companhia Athletica Brooklin in São Paulo, Brazil, Yankovich (138 lbs) won a 10-round unanimous (100-89,100-90,100-88) decision over Darys Pardo (139 lbs) of Barranquilla, Colombia, becoming the WIBA Junior Welterweight world champion. According to WIBA President Ryan Wissow, the fight was a brawl from start to finish, with Yankovich edging Pardo early on with her speed and skills, and pouring it on late with her strength and punching power. Pardo fell to 17-4-3 (3 KO's) while Duda improved her pro record to 7-0 (5 KO's).  (Fight photo gallery)

On March 17, 2007 at Companhia Athletica Brooklin in São Paulo, Brazil, Yankovich (137 lbs) successfully defended her WIBA Junior Welterweight title against Belinda Laracuente (136¼ lbs) of Puerto Rico and New York by a 10-round unanimous decision. The final judges' scores were 98-95, 97-94, and 98-95.  Laracuente fell to 22-18-3 (9 KOs) in what many observers felt was a home-town decision.

On June 16, 2007 at Maksoud Plaza Hotel in São Paulo, Brazil, in the main event, Duda (139 lbs) won a 10-round unanimous (100-91,99-91,100-92) decision over Paola Rojas (137½ lbs) of Cartagena, Colombia for the WIBA Junior Welterweight title.  Rojas fell to 3-5-1 (1 KO) with the loss.

On September 15, 2007 at Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, Duda (137¾ lbs) won a 10-round unanimous decision over Liliana Palmera (135½ lbs) of Colombia ro retain her WIBA Junior Welterweight title. Palmera fell to 13-4-2 (9 KOs).

On April 19, 2008 at Companhia Athletica Brooklin, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Duda Yankovich remained undefeated with an eight-round unanimous decision over Darys Pardo, of Colombia in a rematch of their November 2006 bout.  Yankovich was now 11-0-0 (5 KO's) and Pardo 19-5-3 (15 KO's).

On June 5, 2009 at the Isleta Casino and Resort near Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, Holly Holm (144½ lbs) of Albuquerque TKO'd Duda Yankovich (139¼ lbs) at 0:32 of the fourth round for the WIBA Welterweight title. Holm set the tone early with her jab and drew blood from Yankovich in the second with a series of powerful shots, one of which reportedly broke Yankovich's nose. Yankovich defended more effectively in the third but Holm still ended that round strongly and got to business quickly to put Yankovich away in the fourth.  Yankovich fell to 11-1 (5 KO's) with this loss while Holm progressed to 23-1-3 (6 KO's).

On May 29, 2010 at the Mulungushi Conference Centre in Lusaka, Zambia, Esther Phiri (137¾ lbs) of Zambia won a ten-round unanimous (100-91,100-95,100-92) decision over Duda Yankovich (139 lbs) for the vacant WIBA Junior Welterweight title. Phiri improved to 11-3-2 (4 KO's). 

Yankovich vs MathisOn April 29, 2011 at Espace Roger Boisrame in Pontault Combault, Seine-et-Marne, France, Anne-Sophie Mathis (145¼ lbs) of Dombasle, France TKO'd Duda (140¾ lbs) in the third round of a scheduled ten-rounder for the vacant WBO European welterweight title. Kamel Messani wrote for BoxingScene.com: "From the beginning of the fight, Anne Sophie tried to land a long left hand. Yankovich blocked most of those attempts and countered with hard right cross.  The second round started on a high pace, with nice exchanges from both sides, but it was Mathis who was always more accurate. The fight was lively and fairly balanced but the French boxer has that little something extra that makes champions: a punch! In this second occasion, she touched Duda with a beautiful left hook to the liver that nearly put the Serbian away but she was saved by the bell.  The third round started strong as Yankovich seemed to have recovered and start moving forward again, but this was short lived as Mathis, again with a left hook to the liver, was able to do serious damage. Following up with a right hand, Yankovich went down and the ref jumped in to stop the fight."  Mathis improved to 23-1-0 (20 KO's) with the win.

Yankovich vs PachecoOn March 16, 2012 at Elias Chegwin Stadium in Barranquilla, Colombia, Enis Pacheco Barrera (134 lbs) of Puerto Escondido, Colombia won a ten-round unanimous (96-93,95-94,95-94) decision over Duda Yankovich (135 lbs) for the vacant WBO Lightweight title. Yankovich went to the canvas during a flurry of punches in a fast start by Pacheco. Yankovich was up quickly and has told WBAN that she slipped on a hole in the canvas. The rest of the fight was close although Yankovich appeared to find her range better in the later rounds while Pacheco was quick to negate her reach advantage by tying her up in clinches.  Pacheco's tactics led to a lot of time being spent in pushing and shoving at close quarters rather than clean punching in an ugly affair that ended in a narrow decision for a clearly exhausted Pacheco. "I'm very happy about this title, very excited, because I have met the goal that I set. I ended up exhausted, but I thank God for this win," said Pacheco after the bout.   Yankovich fell to 11-4-0 (5 KO's) with her fourth straight loss in a title bout while Pacheco improved to 9-1 (7 KO's). [Video]

Duda is also involved in other sports, including snow-boarding, diving, para-gliding, roller street skating, climbing, and surfing. Even though she has experienced physical injuries, i.e., two-time broken nose, two broken ribs, a broken tibia bone, and a broken hand, these have never stopped her.

Duda likes the challenge!

Other Duda Yankovich links

For more photos of Duda Yankovich by Otavio Dias, see
WBAN MPEG/Photo Gallery #406 on the WBAN Records Member Site.

Page last updated: Monday, 4 March 2013


WBAN Boxer Bio by Dee Williams




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