Diana Prazak – “I believe I am fighting a bigger version of myself”

DIANA Prazak has made a career out of being the underdog.

It is ironic that the Australian trailblazer, whose story wouldn’t be out of place in a Hollywood film script, made her name shortly after basing herself full-time in Los Angeles.

At 35, Prazak is considered as the lineal titleholder at super featherweight, earning that honour in her bittersweet triumph over Frida Wallberg last June.

The humble, level headed and fiercely determined Prazak (13-2, 9 KOs) will attempt to win her second WBC womens world title when she climbs a division to challenge Delfine Persoon (30-1, 13 KOs) in Belgium.

“When I started my career as a fighter I knew that I wanted to the be the greatest that I could be and that meant that I had to keep testing myself, pushing myself to perform physically and mentally at a higher level,” said Prazak in an exclusive interview with Aus-Boxing. “I believe that comes from fighting the best.”

It is only fitting that in her next challenge, Prazak faces a fighter that she believes is a mirror image of herself – but only bigger.

“The best way at this moment in time that can describe Delfine Persoon is simple, me. I believe I am fighting a bigger version of myself – so I have to ask myself – how do I beat me?”

“Once I figure that out, I hope the next time I talk to you I will be the WBC champion in two weight divisions.”

Prazak’s story is heartwarming in the sense that her battle has always been against the odds and even with victory, she struggles to earn notoriety in a sport that typically glorified its male combatants. But Prazak continues to fight in the hope that her legacy will be remembered, long after she inevitably hangs up her gloves.

“My titles (WBC and WIBA) are extremely important to me. They signify only a small part of what I was able to achieve when I was at my greatest and are a reminder to me of the sacrifices that I have had to endure to earn each one,” she continued. “They make me want to train harder, to work harder so that if by chance I do lose them, I still performed the very best that I was able so that the sacrifices were not in vain.”

Since moving abroad two years ago, Prazak has been solely trained by head trainer Lucia Rijker, a legendary figure in womens boxing, who has guided Prazak to the top of her division. Prazak speaks with deep appreciation when it comes to their relationship, citing there ability to click and their desire to succeed as a team as the primary reason for their success.

“From our first training session together I knew that she was supposed to train me and that together as a team, anything was going to be possible,” said Prazak of her relationship with trainer Lucia Rijker. “She also immigrated to America, so she is aware the day to day ups and downs that I encounter.”

“I look up to her as my mentor, as a trainer and as a friend.”

Despite her success, Prazak has at times struggled to make ends meet. With the finances in womens boxing no where near the heights of their male equivalents, Prazak is forced to work a full-time job in addition to helping hands from her family and friends to help stay afloat.

“This is the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life, emotionally and physically,” Prazak explains. “The additional financial strain makes it almost impossible to deal with. When you have to ask your dad to help you pay your rent and you are a grown woman, well, I cant put into words how that makes me feel.”

“The outside world looks in and sees that I am a two-time world champion, the world number one and would assume that we would be doing pretty good. The reality of being a female in this sport, and one without sponsorship is much different.”

The humble WIBA and WBC titlist has used her two lone blemishes – points defeats to Sarah Howett and Holly Holm – as both gauges to mark her improvement, as well as motivational spurs to ensure that she is never brought to that place again.

“My first loss to Sarah Howett was my professional debut, and I think if you ask anyone there who was at that fight they would tell you that it was a six round war,” she said. “I was in the ring with someone who was far more experienced and skilled than I was. I was in the ring with a better fighter.”

“My fight with Sarah taught me a lot – first and foremost – that I could take a punch.”

“When I fought Holly Holm she was the best pound-for-pound fighter in the planet,” Prazak explained. “It meant that I would be stepping out of my weight division and I knew that in her home town that unless I knocked her out there was no way I could win that fight. It turned out I couldn’t knock her out.”

To understand her story is to understand the struggle as well as the ability to battle against diversity, and win. Prazak is a role model for women in combat sports and living proof that anybody with a fighting spirit can conquer their goals.

“When I first turned professional I wanted to be a champion. But I didn’t want to be a made champion. I didn’t want to fight for a vacant title with an opponent who didn’t deserve to be in the ring.”

“If I was going to be a champion, I had to earn it against champions, against the best in the world.”

“When I retire I want to be able to say that – even though I lost a few – I fought the best. That I got better every time I stepped into the ring. That I worked to be the greatest that I could be.”

Photo: Louie Abigail/Photography by Rockfingrz


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