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On The Move - Dariana Casado

El Barrio: New York, NY
Trabajo: Women's Boxer

Dariana Casado will drop your jaw. She can do it with a look or a hook. She can use the full lips and gleaming teeth that punctuate her smile or seductive footwork complimented by a conservatively calculated barrage of punches.

“My passion for boxing comes before modeling,” says the 5’10 fighter. “But they both came hand-in-hand. Even though I started modeling at 16, it picked up even more after I started boxing.”

At 22, one year after losing in the 2007 finals, Casado won the 2008 Golden Gloves championship with lethal coolness and an ice pick of a left jab. Her four rounds of dominance at Madison Square Garden, at the 145-pound class, that night also boosted her modeling portfolio. Soon after, the Dominican beauty showcased her boxing skills in a Nike ad campaign, and her around-the-way girl sexiness for LRG’s woman’s line- Luxirie.

The Westchester native grew-up somewhat privileged, moving to a suburban sprawl in Ohio with her parents at the age of 10. In 2003, she returned to New York to attend St. John’s University. During her senior year, the student-model took up boxing on a whim, just to get in shape. However, the ease of Casado’s first victory in her debut fight ignited a passion for the sport.

“She has good physical attributes,” explains trainer, Lee Shabaka, who noticed the upstart’s potential before she wanted to fight. “[Dariana] has a boxer’s body. She’s a natural mover and a good defender.”

“That’s another reason why I felt I could actually do it,” admits Casado, who earned a BA in History in 2007, while training for the Golden Gloves. “[My coach] was supportive and encouraging.”

Unfortunately, an ailing grandmother and some employment issues took the boxer away from the ring for about a year, but the opportunity to be a part of history sparked her return.

Last summer, the International Olympic Committee decided to include women’s boxing in the 2012 summer Olympics. To provide some context, in the 2008 Beijing games, 25 of the 26 sports were co-ed. Only boxing excluded women.

To meet Olympic weight class requirements Casado moved up nine pounds to 154. With the added weight to her model frame, the 24-year-old –who also juggles a 9-to-5; that she’s completely dispassionate about– seems focused. Easily shrugging off questions of ring-rust with the same stoic buoyancy she displays in a fight, the slugger is determined to make the Olympic team. And though both of her parents were born in DR, she’d be proud to represent the United States as a first generation American. “My greatest concern is making the Olympic team,” Casado affirms. “So I’m just perfecting my craft and making sure I’m ready.”

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