MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
Now we'll go northwest of Beijing to Mongolia. NPR producer Charlie Mayer would like to introduce us to Ella Beavers, an Albanian banker living in Mongolia who's taken up the sport of boxing.
CHARLIE MAYER: It is fight time in Ulaanbaatar.
(SOUNDBITE OF FOREIGN ANNOUNCER)
MAYER: The local favorite Nyag Massuran(ph) comes from Gobi-Sumber Province. Her challenger, Ella Beavers, comes from Albanian and is sponsored by Khan Bank. By the way, this is Beavers' first fight ever.
(SOUNDBITE OF FIGHT)
MAYER: In the first few seconds of the match Nyag Massuran unleashed a tornado of punches on Beavers' face. The ref paused the fight as Beavers went down. Ella Beavers started boxing a year ago here at the Central Sports Palace in downtown Ulaanbaatar. There is sweat on the walls and fresh blood on the floor of this enormous boxing gym. 31-year-old banker Ella Beavers was born in Albanian. Her work for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development brought her to Mongolia and she ended up pounding this punching bag because she wanted to find a physical challenge to match the considerable professional challenges of banking in Mongolia. But banking and boxing don't always mix.
ELLA BEAVERS: I had a black eye once. It was a bit difficult to hide it at the bank but I managed.
MAYER: Beavers trainer is Enkhbat, a bull of man who agreed to train her for 5,000 Mongolian tugrugs per session, less than five dollars. Enkhbat doesn't really speak English and Beavers doesn't really speak Mongolian. They share the universal language of boxing. Here's the Mongolian version of left, left, right, under.
(SOUNDBITE FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
BEAVERS: I call him a dangerous man. He is a very dangerous man. He pushes you to the limit.
MAYER: Beavers is built like a jet fighter, sleek and fast, tough and dangerous. She trains hard but as she found out there's very little that can prepare anyone for their first real boxing match.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
MAYER: Unknown Female #2: She looks cool, she's a very cool woman. You know, she boxes and she's smart and she's very good at what she does.
MAYER: Remember how Beavers fell in the first round? Well she found her mojo in the second and she commanded the fight after that. It's the beginning of the third round and Ella in the red trunks has just put her opponent on the mat. At the end of three rounds Beavers won her first fight by a decision.
(SOUNDBITE OF FIGHT ANNOUNCER SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
MAYER: You punched that woman in the face. What was that about?
BEAVERS: Many times, it felt good. Definitely good because every time I punched I thought another point in favor of me so I just kept pounding. Kept that pounding.
MAYER: The pounding continued. Two days after her first victory Beavers fought again and won. Even though Ella Beavers destroyed two local opponents many Mongolian spectators cheered for her anyway. This is a country where hospitality is important. Even a visitor who beats on the local kids is celebrated for her strength and gumption.
BLOCK: ALL THINGS CONSIDERED producer Charlie Mayer is spending a year in Mongolia as a Henry Lose scholar. To see pictures of Ella Beavers go to our website NPR.org.
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