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Hyun-Mi Choi

5'7" featherweight Hyun-mi Choi was born on November 7,1990 in Pyongyang, North Korea. She showed early talent in sports, particularly track, but was persuaded to try boxing by her school's coach. Unusually tall for a North Korean girl, she was invited in 2003 to join the boxing program at Kim Chui-joo Educational University. At age 13, she was the youngest in a program intended to prepare North Koreans for the hoped-for introduction of women's boxing at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.

Her life changed completely in February 2004, when her father Choi Young-choon, who worked for a trading company that exported to China and Japan, visited China on business. During the trip, he arranged for their mother, Hyun-mi and her older brother to cross the border to join him there. The family never returned to North Korea but instead went to South Korea via Vietnam as defectors. 

Once in South Korea, Hyun-mi returned to boxing at a school for promising athletes.  Starting In 2006 she won several amateur tournaments and compiled a 16-1 record.   When women's boxing was not included in the 2008 Olympics, Hyun-mi turned pro so that she could earn more prize money from boxing to supplement her family income. Her  father had been unable to get work in South Korea and the family lived on special subsidies given to refugees from the North.  

She made her pro debut on June 26, 2008 at the Grace Sports Center in Yunnan, China.  She weighed in at 126 lbs and TKO'd fellow pro debuter Zhang Juan Juan (5'3", 123 lbs) of China in the third round of a scheduled 8-round bout for the PABA Featherweight Junior title.

On October 11, 2008 at the Gymnasium in Jinan Gun, South Korea, Hyun-mi Choi (124 lbs) won a ten-round unanimous (98-92,96-94,97-93) decision over Chun-Yan Xu (126 lbs) of China for the vacant WBA Featherweight title. Choi outlasted her Chinese opponent who was the first to tire in the ten-rounder, so that Choi controlled the later rounds.  This was only the second pro fight for either boxer, as Xu fell to 1-1 (0 KO's). At just under 18 years of age, Choi became the youngest world champion in WBA history.

On May 30, 2009 at the National Univ. of Technology in Seoul, South Korea, Hyun-mi Choi (125 lbs) defended the WBA Featherweight title with a split (96-94,96-96,94-96) draw over Hyo-Min Kim (5′ 5,125 lbs) of Incheon, South Korea.  Kim moved her record to 2-0-1 (1 KO) with the result.

On November 21, 2009 at Sungkyunkwan University in Suwon City, South Korea, Hyun-mi Choi (126 lbs) won a ten-round unanimous (97-92,96-94,100-92) decision over Mutsumi Maedo, aka Tenku Tsubasa (5'4",124 lbs) of Tokyo, Japan defending the WBA Featherweight title. Choi knocked Maedo/Tsubasa down twice (see photo) in the fight. The loss dropped Maedo's record to 12-4 (5 KO's). 

On April 30, 2010 at Sungkyunkwan University in Suwon City, South Korea, Hyun-mi Choi (126 lbs) won a hard fought ten-round split (93-98,96-95,96-95) decision over interim champion Claudia Andrea Lopez (123 lbs) of Trelew, Argentina defending the WBA Featherweight title.  Choi initially had some trouble against the Argentinean southpaw, but she turned the bout her way with a knockdown punch in the fifth round. "I took on the left hander for the first time. It was very difficult," the battle-worn Choi said, nursing a black eye. "I've trained six hours every day for the past two months."  Lopez fell to 14-5 (3 KO's) with the loss.

On April 29, 2011 at Chungei Temple in Yesan Gun, South Korea, Hyun-Mi Choi (126 lbs) TKO'd Sandy Tsagouris (126 lbs) of Brampton, Ontario, Canada at 1:39 in the third round of a scheduled ten-rounder for the WBA Featherweight title. Tsagouris, who had last fought in November 2009, fell to 10-2-0 (4 KO's) while Choi improved to 5-0-1 (2 KO's).

Choi is studying sports science at Sungkyunkwan University. Her ambition is to win all of the world featherweight titles and then begin a career in South Korea's entertainment industry. "I fight for fame and success, I'm going to make everyone recognize my name" she told New York Times contributor Choe Sang-Hun in 2008, adding that "Boxing is my way to prove that my parents made the right decision."  

Other Hyun-mi Choi links

  • Video - North Korean defector becomes Star Boxer in South Korea
  • Photo of Choi after defeating Mutsumi Maedo for the WBA title
  • Photo of Maedo on the canvas in the third round

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Page last updated: Saturday, April 30, 2011


WBAN Boxer Bio by Dee Williams





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