Girl in great force
Aryna Danilchyk is no stranger to breaking stereotypes
“Sometimes I work in the ring as the first number, I attack, and sometimes I prefer to flutter, run around. I believe that excellence lies in diversity. However, my coach all the time says that it is important to be able to be non-standard so that the opponent cannot predict your next move. This is what I strive for,” Aryna Danilchyk describes her style of boxing. This girl from Baranovichi is unpredictable, however, not only in the ring. She is a certified swimming coach but is currently obtaining her second higher education at the Academy of Public Administration under the aegis of the President with a degree in law at the Faculty of Public Administration and Law. Aryna, so serious and focused during fights, laughs a lot outside of training and says: ‘In life, I’m just a sweetheart!’ She has no fear of getting hit in the face, but she also does not refuse extended eyelashes. The athlete has already collected an impressive collection of awards this season, but she is not going to stop: right now she is preparing for her first world championship, which will be held in India in March.— Aryna, how did swimming, which you practiced for many years, bring you to boxing?
— I stop my choice on swimming at the age of six: I came with a neighbour for training and, sitting on a bench, ‘was drawn into’ this sport — this phrasing is most suitable to describe what happened to me. A neighbour approached the coach, said that the baby also wanted to swim, and he asked: ‘I have a group of 1997-1998, is she of a proper age?’ Of course, we said that I met the criteria, but I was a year younger. This was revealed at the first competitions that I won... I swam for 11 years. And when I was in the eleventh grade, I realised that I lacked general physical training.
At that time, we went to a sports camp outside the city, where there were swimmers and boxers, and I decided to try myself in this sport. I liked it right away, over time I began getting results. The coaches offered to take part in the boxing championship of the country, and I won it.
And a month later I fulfilled the standard of a master of sports in swimming. I entered BSUPC as a coach in this sport, but in the middle of the first year I finally went into boxing.
— Was it difficult to learn the ropes?
— Only at first glance it may seem that this sport and swimming are incompatible. It is recommended to take children for boxing at the age of 12-13, when they already have some kind of background. So swimming is just a great background. Due to this sport, I have developed endurance, a desire to win has been formed.
Of course, at first I had no boxing technique at all: when I beat, my movements resembled crawl swimming.
All the same, I did not stop and won at the expense of pressure, character. At the first trainings, we were not put in pairs — at first I did pad work with a coach. But I remember my first fight: with my friend, with whom we came to boxing training. She began to move away, and I continued to push. At first, I didn’t have an understanding that some girl, in principle, could beat me! There was no fear of getting hit in the face or body, but there was adrenaline and the desire to strike herself.
— How often do you get punched in the face?
— Every day. I won’t say that it’s pleasant, but it’s a great incentive to practice defence. It seems like it has already been approved that soon we will perform without helmets, like men. Not all boxing girls are happy with this decision, but this innovation is not at all something that could stop me.
— In wrestling, girls in training often stand in sparring with guys. But how are things going with you?
— The same way. Guys are more technical and stronger, but fights against them are very different from women’s fights: when we are paired with girls, we feel more aggression and emotions. Therefore, it is very cool that we combine training with both.
— Last year turned out to be ambiguous in sports. Although the International Boxing Association was the first to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete internationally without any reservations, the suspension was long-lasting. At this time, you spent a lot of training camps and tournaments with Russians — what did this work give you?
— It’s been a super rewarding year. Russia is one of the leading countries in both men’s and women’s boxing. We went to the training camp in Ulan-Ude, Krasnodar, where there were the best representatives of the Russian team, European and world champions. I can see by myself and the girls from our team that thanks to this co-operation we are growing and becoming stronger.
And if before that we were not particularly considered, now Russian women take us much more seriously.
— During this time, you have repeatedly risen to the podium in competitions: bronze at the tournament in Khabarovsk, silver in Ulan-Ude, gold at the Cup of Belarus and the Cup of Nations in Serbian Sombor...
— It’s funny, but it all started after I got hit by a car (laughs).
— Are you joking?
— No. It happened on January 3rd last year. I have just been included in the national team. I was going to training, crossed the road at a green light, and I was hit by a taxi driver. First there was a collision with a bumper, then I fell on the windshield, then on the asphalt. Fortunately, the bones remained intact, but there were some injuries: I got a concussion, soft tissue damage — I had to get stitches, I had an ear injury... Rehabilitation took about three months. And when everything happened, we were preparing just in time for the tournament in Serbia — it is an annual one, and instead of going there, I ended up in the hospital. Then I felt great support from the Head Coach of the women’s team Vasily Sorgovitsky, my personal trainer Vladimir Rassolko, the boxing team of our SDUSHOR and especially Director Victoria Kazyuchits, many other people involved in our training. In short, something has changed since then: training camps in Russia took place, I started winning medals at tournaments.
— What are your plans for the near future?
— The performance at the tournament in Serbia contributed to the fact that I was approved for the World Championship, which will be held in India in mid-March. Before that, we will perform at a respectable tournament in Bulgaria, which brings together very strong boxers.
— Do you have any excitement before the debut World Championship?
— Not yet: I feel inspired, although I understand that excitement will appear when we arrive at the venue of the competition. But the fact that I was included in the line-up added a thousand plus to the motivation! As far as I know, there will be no restrictions in terms of national symbols at the World Championships. It was the same in Serbia, our national flag was on my shoulders. This adds stimulus, inspires to new achievements.
— This season you performed in the category up to 66 and up to 70 kilogrammes. Which one are you more comfortable in?
— My main category is up to 66 kilogrammes. Before the tournament in Serbia, we decided not to weightlift. To some extent, we risked, because the rivals in the category up to 70 kilogrammes are heavier, and their blows are stronger. It worked in the end. At the same time, the level of 66 kilogrammes is considered the Olympic category, the next one is 75 kilogrammes, and in it, I am completely underweight, so I will remain in my usual category.
— You train almost every day, and this is not even a training period, in addition, last week you also passed the session. How do you find time to study?
— Last year I entered the Academy of Public Administration. The training is very interesting! It was my conscious choice to go there, and I have never regretted it. Why did I choose exactly this specialty? In the future, when I achieve all my goals in sports, I want to develop sports in Belarus. I want to work where I can share my experience, help make sure that Belarusians are always considered on the world stage. I really like to study. Furthermore, I don’t spend days on Instagram or TikTok, I learn more. Now, for example, about the history of our country. Teachers at the academy want to give us new knowledge.
— In general, how do new acquaintances react to the fact that you are engaged in boxing?
— I do not show it at the beginning of the conversation. Of course, I can see that I am an athlete. Strong shoulders allow one to guess about swimming, although some suggest volleyball... But then I point to my hooked nose and admit that I do boxing. In response, I often hear that my future husband is not lucky (laughs).
— By the way, are you still swimming?
— I try to keep in shape. I really like to go to my native pool in Baranovichi. I have a kind of ritual: before leaving for tournaments, I come to where it all began. Likewise, I also definitely visit my boxing coaches from Baranovichi — Yuri Mikhan and Viktor Matyas. I am very grateful to them! When I quit swimming, I wanted to leave the sport altogether, but they said: ‘You have a month to rest, and you go in for boxing’. A month has passed, the withdrawal started — there were not enough loads for me... Now I love what I do. Boxing teaches a lot. Everything in it is like in life: somewhere you need to hit back, somewhere to retreat, beat the opponent with your mind. However, boxing is an art: the fights are spectacular, it is interesting to watch them...
I set myself big goals. We have never had world champions, girls from Belarus have not yet competed in the Olympic ring. I want to be the first.
By Tatiana Pastushenko