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5'1" "Vicious" Vaia Zaganas (born 22 May 1975) is from Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.  She turned pro in 2001 after an impressive career as an amateur. She won the Canadian "Rookie of the Year" Award in 1999, national titles in 1999 and 2001, and "best boxer"awards in the 1999 and 2000 "Blue and Gold" tournaments in the USA.

In 1998, she was the British Columbia and Golden Gloves Champion.

She went on to compete nationally and internationally as an amateur in the 100 and 106 lb weight class, training at the Queensborough Boxing Club in New Westminster, British Columbia while working as a fitness instructor.

On January 24, 1999, in the Finals of the 1999 Canadian National Championships in Sudbury, Ontario, she won the 48 kg national title by defeating Louise Provencher of Quebec by 10-4.

At the 1999 Feenix Cup in Turku, Finland, she blanked Ilse Vanderstappen of Belgium by 9-0 in the 48-kg (106-lb) quarterfinal round on May 14, but lost to the USA's Linda Carrillo by 7-4 in a semifinal bout on May 15.

On June 25-26, 1999 in the USA vs. Canada Dual Meet at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, she defeated Catherine Herway of the USA 16-10 in the 48-kg division.

Vaia competed in the 14th Annual Blue and Gold Tournament in Baldwin Park, California on September 1-5, and described it to me as "a fantastic experience .... over 300 boxers from all over the States and Canada, and lots of females. Jamie McGrath was there, as well as Anna Gutierrez, Kristi Rosario and Adelaida Avalos .... my division (106 lbs) had the most boxers entered. There was a lot of hype over a possible match between me and Linda Carillo (US champ) since we had fought already twice, I won the first and she won the second. I strongly disputed the second decision, as it was on the computer scoring and I feel that I completely dominated the bout, but ended up losing. Anyway,the newspapers loved the idea of a rubber match in the final."

Vaia got her wish! She won unanimous decisions over Amy Melendez and Priscilla Perez to get to the final while Linda Carillo got a first round bye, then defeated Michelle Gatewood from Spokane in her semifinal. Zaganas then defeated Carillo by a 5-0 unanimous decision in Carillo's home town to settle their score!

Vaia next fought on the undercard of a professional bout between Canada's Doris Hackl and Shakurah Witherspoon in Halifax, Nova Scotia on September 7th. Vaia notched another win, by unanimous decision over Nova Scotia's own Katherine Lewis, a two-time Canadian national silver medalist in the 112-lb division. (Lewis lost to Jamie Behl in 1999 and to Margaret Sidoroff in 1998).

On July 8, 2000 in the Canada-USA Dual Meet in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Zaganas defeated Maricela Ortiz of the USA 7-4 in a 100-lb division bout. Chris Cozzone of Inside Women's Boxing was at ringside and told me "Zaganas was more aggressive and easily outpointed Ortiz, who seemed a bit reserved."

In August 2000 in the 106-lb Open Division of the 2000 US National/international Golden Gloves in Augusta, Georgia, she won her opening bout over Katie Robinson when the referee stopped the contest in the first round. She went on to a decision over Monay Mincy of Queens, New York in the semifinal, but lost a decision to 18-year-old Carina Moreno of Watsonville, California in the final the next day. The bout with Moreno, who was the reigning 106-lb US national champion, ended with Zaganas shaking her head in disbelief at the decision.

Vaia Zaganas as an amateur in CanadaOn January 27, 2001 in the finals of the 2001 Canadian National Championships in Cap-de-la-Madelaine, Quebec, Vaia won the 45-kg national title with a 26-9 decision over Canadian national team member Kim Peturson of Regina, Saskatchewan.

Her amateur record now stood at an impressive 31-4.

Vaia made her pro debut on July 8, 2001 at State Line Silversmith Casino in West Wendover, Utah. She weighed in at 105 lbs and dropped a four-round decision to Luz Rodriguez (102 lbs), who evened her own pro record at 1-1.

On October 12, 2001 at Pala Casino in Temecula, California, Vaia Zaganas squared her pro record at 1-1 (1 KO) with a 0:47 second KO of late replacement Crystal Parker who fell to 0-3. According to a report from Inside Women's Boxing 's Ralph Gonzalez, "Zaganas came out fast delivering solid head shots that shook Parker every time her face connected with Zaganas's gloves. It was only a matter of time as Parker took several uncontested body and face combinations that prompted a well-deserved stoppage by referee Jack Reiss. We’ll have to see Vaia against better competition to see what she’s made of."

On October 26, 2001 in Vancouver, Canada, Vaia notched her second pro win with a first-round knockout of Janet Williams of Fort Smith, Arkansas. Zaganas moved to now 2-1 as a pro boxer; Williams had no previous record that I know of.

On February 16, 2002 at Las Vegas Hilton in Las Vegas, Nevada, Vaia (105 lbs) won a four-round unanimous (40-36,40-36,39-37) decision over Diedre Hamaguchi (103 lbs) of New York City. Hamaguchi, who fell to 0-2-1 with the loss was a veteran amateur boxer who lost to Jill Matthews in the 1995 New York Golden Gloves (the first time that event admitted female boxers).

On May 15, 2002 at Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner, Louisiana, Vaia advanced to 4-1-0 (2 KO) with a hard-fought six- round unanimous (60-54,60-54,58-56) decision over Diedre Hamaguchi of New York City, who fell to 0-3-1. Zaganas had a clear edge on the scorecards in this rematch but ended the bout showing Hamaguchi's handiwork on her face.

On June 15, 2002 at Sky Ute Casino, Ignacio, Colorado, Vaia (103½ lbs) won by TKO over Sarah Goodson (104 lbs) of Arkansas at 0:36 in the eighth for the vacant IFBA Strawweight title. Goodson was hopelessly outskilled as Zaganas was able to block or slip her wild haymakers. Goodson resorted to holding and wrestling and had points deducted for illegal tactics in the third and eighth rounds. She spit out her mouthpiece and left the ring when the second point was taken away. Zaganas ended the bout with a goose-egg over her left eye but she had acquired the IFBA belt. Goodson fell to 5-13-1.

On February 15, 2003 at Flamingo Laughlin in Laughlin, Nevada, Vaia (103½ lbs) won a six-round unanimous (59-55,58-56,60-54) decision over Stephanie Dobbs (102 lbs) of Moore, Oklahoma. Dobbs fell to 4-7-1 (3 KO).

On March 27, 2003 at War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Vaia (105 lbs) won a six-round unanimous (60-52) decision over Terri Moss (104 lbs) of Miami, Florida who fell to 3-4-0 (1 KO).

vs. Nina AhlinOn April 18, 2003 at Palace Indian Gaming Center in Lemoore, California, Vaia (104 lbs) won a six-round unanimous (59-55,59-55,58-56) decision over Nina Ahlin (101½ lbs) of Atlanta, Georgia. Both fighters threw punches in bunches throughout an action- packed bout in which Zaganas had the upper hand in the early going but the slick-boxing Ahlin finished strongly in the fifth and sixth. Ahlin fell to 10-4-1 (3 KO).

Vaia easily defeated Holly DunawayOn April 26, 2003 at Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, Vaia (106 lbs) won a TKO at 1:24 in the second round over unranked Hollie Dunaway (107 lbs). Zaganas progressed to 9-1-0 (4 KO) with the win while Dunaway fell to 1-2 (1 KO).

On May 24, 2003 at the Hilton in Reno, Nevada, USA, history repeated itself as Luz Rodriguez (104½ lbs) of Mexicali, México again bested Vaia (105 lbs), this time by a six-round unanimous (59-56,60-54,60-54) near-shut-out decision. Zaganas slipped to 9-2-0 (4 KO) with the loss while Rodriguez progressed to 2-3-1 (0 KO), all against quality opponents ... Elena Reid, Wendy Rodriguez, and Zaganas. ( Fight Report)

On July 25, 2003 at Creek Nation Gaming Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Vaia won a six-round unanimous (60-54,60-54,59-55) decision in a rematch with Sarah Goodson of Arkansas. Zaganas controlled the bout with her well-honed boxing skills but Goodson (who became a mother just four months earlier) hung in trying for a power punch that might turn the fight around. Zaganas is now 10-2-0 (4 KO) while Goodson fell to 7-13-1 (2 KO). Zaganas said "I fight a lot better when I’m mad,” adding that some pre-fight statements by Goodson and her husband had fired her up.

On August 22, 2003 at Hilton Hotel in Reno, Nevada, Vaia (105 lbs) won a second-round TKO over Tracey Stevens (103½ lbs) of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. Stevens fell to 5-6-0 (1 KO) with the loss.

On October 25, 2003 at Sam's Town Casino in Tunica, Mississippi, Vaia (105 lbs) won a second-round TKO over unranked and winless Nikki Verbeck (102 lbs) of Paris, Arkansas, who fell to 0-8-0.

On November 4, 2003 at Martin's West in Woodlawn, Maryland, Vaia (104½ lbs) won a six-round unanimous decision over unranked Diedre Hamaguchi (5'1", 106½ lbs) of New York. Zaganas improvesd to 13-2-0 (6 KO) while dropping Hamaguchi to 1-5-2 (0 KO).

On November 22, 2003 at Caesars, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA, Vaia (105 lbs) won a six-round unanimous (60-54 x 3) decision over Sarah Goodson (106 lbs) of Paris, Arkansas. Goodson spent the fight throwing roundhouses that were more like slaps while Zaganas worked her jabs and combinations inside Goodson's wild swings. Zaganas improved her pro record to 14-2-0 (6 KO) with her third win over Goodson while Goodson slipped to 8-14-1 (2 KO).

On December 11, 2003 at Fantasia Club in Queens, New York, USA, unranked Gracie Joe Roca of Brooklyn, New York won a four-round majority decision over Vaia. Roca scored her first pro boxing win while raising her record to 1-3-1 (0 KO) in what had to be considered a major upset, with a strong whiff of home cooking. “I beat the crap out of that girl,” Zaganas told Kieran Mulvaney of Boxing in Las Vegas. “Beat the CRAP out of her. There’s no way I lost that fight. One boxing writer called it the worst robbery he’d ever seen, and if you’re a boxing writer you see a lot of robberies. But the fight was in New York against somebody from New York ... (and by not knocking her out) ... I gave them an opportunity to rob me.”

Vaia lands a right to Yumi Takano's face  in Las Vegas, March 2004

On March 13, 2004 at Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Vaia weighed in at 104 lbs and won a six-round majority (57-57,59-55,58-56) decision over Yumi Takano (105 lbs) of Japan by way of Los Angeles. Zaganas controlled Takano with her jab for most of this fight and repeatedly beat Takano to the punch with crisp shots to the head.. Takano was cut between her right eye and nose in the opening round but the cut did not become a big factor. Takano wasn't able to work past Zaganas's jab until late in the fight, and then Zaganas was both willing and able to go toe to toe with her. "When I landed those straight right hands, my power was as good, if not better,' Zaganas said. "You can tell by the swelling and the bruising (on Takano's face).' Zaganas improved to 15-3-0 (6 KO) while Takano slipped to 9-8-0 (1 KO).

On April 8, 2004 at Wyndham Inner Harbor Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland, Vaia (103½ lbs) won a ten-round uananimous (100-90,99-91,98-92) decision over Stephanie Dobbs (101¾ lbs) of Moore, Oklahoma for the vacant NABA Minimumweight title. Vaia used her movement and jab, as well as telling uppercuts, to pile up the points against the gutsy but outskilled Dobbs.  Zaganas said her plan was to box aggressively using her strength and go all out for the full ten rounds. “I’m happy about my stamina. It was really good and I got stronger,” said Zaganas. “Vaia was in tremendous shape. She basically out-boxed Stephanie,” said Stephanie's trainer and husband Bobby Dobbs. “She looked real good and I give her credit. I didn’t think she would have the hunger but she did.”  Dobbs said fighting Zaganas again gave her a gauge for her career. “Congratulations to Vaia Zaganas. A very good fighter who sets the bar for me to reach for,” said Dobbs.  Zaganas said she noticed an improvement in Dobbs during the first round. “I give her credit for coming in really well trained. I could see how she was trying to pick her shots, using defense and using her jab." 

Zaganas credits her energy to a special diet that helped her to overcome late-round tiredness. She refused to sit down between rounds after the fifth frame. “Now I know I can be strong the entire distance. I know I can start out strong and stay strong,” she said. “My diet is 100 percent better now.”

Chris Cozzone of Inside Women's Boxing said of Zaganas: "Vaia is the complete package. Though she may lack a bit of oomph on her punches, she’s got everything else: angles, style, a masterful defense and the ability to throw a wide range of accurate combinations."

In a June 2000 interview with Canada's Chatelaine magazine, Vaia explained the appeal of boxing, saying "You have to challenge yourself. When you can do something that you're afraid to do, it gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment. So, playing a volleyball game is not the same as fighting a boxing match. The difference is that sense of fear. The killer instinct, the survival instinct, is stronger than in any other sport, and that's what boxers have in them."

Vaia has now retired from competition and returned to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada where she is now teaching boxing, passing on her knowledge to students at Sparta Boxing and Fitness. “I think that boxing shaped my life by teaching me to achieve my goals and to be disciplined and focused,” she says. “Those are things I’ve been able to apply to other pursuits in my life. Now, I’m happy I can teach that to others through boxing.”  She can be reached by email to vaia@spartaboxing.com

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