Tajikistan's ‘Million Dollar Baby’ Hangs Up Her Gloves

Mavzuna Chorieva, Tajikistan's “Million Dollar Baby” who brought the country a bronze medal in the women's lightweight boxing at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, has hung up her gloves, at least for a year. On October 27, the 19-year old boxer got married and announced [ru] that she would not return to the boxing ring until after she has a child. “I love the sport,” she told journalists. “But family is more important to me.”

Global Voices Online reported on August 9, that Chorieva's success at the 2012 Olympics made her a “role model” for thousands of girls in the country. One blogger even proposed that the fighter could become Tajikistan's new “national symbol”. Chorieva herself promised [ru] that she would win gold at the next Summer Olympics in 2016.

After winning an Olympic bronze at the 2012 Games, Mavzuna Chorieva was greeted as a hero in her native town of Kulob. Image by ASIA-Plus news agency, August 18, 2012, used with permission.


The boxer's announcement has divided the internet community in Tajikistan. In the country where family is commonly viewed as the most important ingredient of a person's life course, many people are happy for Chorieva.

Underneath a news report about the boxer's wedding on Ozodi.org, ‘Salim from Dushanbe’ wrote [tj]:

Муборак шавад! Офарин! Канд зан! Кушапир шавед!

Congratulations! Bravo! Well done! Live happily until the end of your days!

Among many similar comments, an anonymous user added [tj]:

Дуъо мекунем, ки Мавзунабону бо чавони дустдоштааш хушбахт шаванду точикписару точикдухтарони далеру ватандорро ба дуне оранд.

We pray that Mavzuna and her beloved [husband] be happy and have many courageous and Motherland-loving Tajik sons and Tajik daughters.

Mavzuna Chorieva and her husband dance at their wedding in Kulob. Image by ASIA-Plus news agency, October 27, 2012, used with permission.

“Like everyone else”

But some netizens view Chorieva's marriage and her intention to have a child as putting an end to her sports career. Moreover, some people are disappointed that Chorieva, who was becoming a role model for the country's girls, has chosen to be “like everyone else” instead.

Blogger Shukufa wrote [ru] on Blogiston.tj:

С одной стороны, я её конечно понимаю. Она девушка, ей хочется обыкновенного женского счастья: муж, ребёнок и т.д.

Но с другой стороны, очень жаль, что мы теряем такой образец для подражания. Вернуться в спорт и продолжать одерживать победы после рождения ребенка будет уже, скорее всего, невозможно. Нашим девочкам будет не на кого равняться. Девочка из Куляба, которая всем своим поведением показывала: “я не такая как все”, теперь стремится доказать, что именно такая. Что она не хочет выделяться. Что хочет быть “как все”. Грустно.

On the one hand, of course I understand her. She is a girl, she simply wants to be happy as a woman [that is, to have] a husband and a child, among other things.

But on the other hand, it's a real pity that we are losing a role model. It will most likely be impossible for her to return to a sports career and continue winning tournaments after having a child. Our girls now don't have anybody to look up to. The girl from Kulob [Chorieva's home town], whose very behavior used to state, “I am not like everyone else,” now seeks to prove the contrary. That she does not want to stand out. That she wants to be “like everyone else”. This is sad.

Chorieva said she intended to return to the ring after having a child and to try to win a medal at the next Olympic Games. However, many people doubt that such a comeback will be possible.

Jasur Ashurov tweeted [ru]:

Таджикистан потерял олимпийскую медалистку. Что бы она ни говорила, медалей ей теперь не видать.

Tajikistan has lost an Olympic medalist. Whatever she says, she will not win any medal now.

Mavzuna Chorieva, greeted in her native town of Kulob after returning with a medal from the 2012 Summer Olympics. Image by ASIA-Plus news agency, August 18, 2012, used with permission.

Still, others believe that Chorieva has left sports, even only temporarily, under social pressure. In Tajikistan, boxing and other combat sports are traditionally denied to women.

Underneath a report about the athlete's marriage on news.tj, Faridun Bobokalon wrote [ru]:

Это её выбор. Мы ведь все знаем, что девушка-боксер в Таджикистане это нонсенс. Чориева, видимо, не хотела, чтобы на нее всю жизнь показывали пальцем. Вот и выбрала быть такой же как все.

This is her choice. We all know that being a female boxer in Tajikistan is nonsense. Apparently, Chorieva didn't want to have people pointing fingers at her for all her life. This is why she has chosen to be like everyone else.

Rare optimism

Amid such comments, there are also rare voices suggesting that Tajikistan's “Million Dollar Baby” might still have it all.

Mulex tweeted [ru]:

А может она еще вернется и всем докажет, что можно завоевывать медали и после замужества и рождения ребенка? Надеемся на это.

Maybe she will still return and prove to everyone that one can win medals even after getting married and having a child? We hope for it.


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