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[SPORTS] Noriko Kariya - Boxer

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  • madchinaman
    BANG, Not Byng While the Ducks Paul Kariya has made a successful hockey living out of not fighting, that style won t work with younger sister Noriko, who is
    Message 1 of 1 , May 30, 2003
      BANG, Not Byng
      While the Ducks' Paul Kariya has made a successful hockey living out
      of not fighting, that style won't work with younger sister Noriko,
      who is unbeaten in her young boxing career

      The Stanley Cup finals begin this week, the Mighty Ducks are there,
      and a Kariya will be brawling.

      Chasing opponents into corners. Stunning them with quick jabs.
      Waiting for that delicious moment when they crumple.

      "I know it sounds evil, but I love it when you hit somebody right on
      the nose and they go down," she says. "I just love it."

      Yeah, she.

      This Kariya is not the hockey player.

      This Kariya is his sister.

      Noriko Kariya, an unbeaten amateur boxer, hears the catcalls and

      "Oh, so you're the fighter in the family!" fans shout.

      Paul Kariya, the Ducks' polite captain, hears it and smiles.

      "Obviously," he says.


      Here in the land of cartoons turned real, where the Mighty has
      become greater than the Duck, the wonders never cease.

      One of the players has a sister who fights?

      And that player is the two-time winner of the Lady Byng Trophy for
      gentlemanly conduct?

      Says Noriko, proudly: "I box just about every day."

      Says Paul, just as proud: "I haven't been in a fight in my career."

      At first glance, the differences between the siblings are as great
      as those between a Zamboni and a curling broom.

      Noriko, 23, is a 126-pound featherweight who is 5-0 in less than one

      Paul, 28, is a 182-pound cruiserweight who has yet to drop his stick
      in nine years.

      Noriko regularly climbs into the ring for bouts lasting six minutes.

      Paul once spent only six minutes in the penalty box in an entire

      Growing up in Vancouver, Paul remembers once bugging Noriko while
      she was talking on the phone to a boy.

      "She hung up the phone, came downstairs, and belted me," he says.

      Of Tetsuhiko and Sharon Kariya's three boys and two girls, Noriko
      was fire and Paul was ice.

      Noriko remembers: "Everybody else in the family was finesse. Not me."

      Paul remembers: "I've gotten a few right crosses from her in my day."

      While Paul began playing ice hockey, Noriko played field hockey.

      After he became an All-Star with the Ducks, she became an All-
      American at the University of Maine.

      He ended up stuck in a struggling Duck franchise.

      She ended up stuck in a fancy Toronto hair salon as a stylist and

      Then, suddenly, last summer, those Kariya kids didn't seem so
      different after all.

      A continent apart in postal codes and personalities, they embarked
      on similar missions stitched together by genes.

      Even though he was meeting his sixth head coach in nine years, Paul
      chose to integrate himself into Mike Babcock's system without fuss,
      sacrificing his personal numbers in hopes of a championship that
      seemed terribly distant at the time.

      Even though she has a degree in psychology, Noriko decided to go
      knock somebody's lights out.

      Says Paul: "After winning the Olympic gold medal with Canada, I
      realized, this is all there is. You win, or you lose. There's
      nothing else. At the end of the day, it's the only feeling that

      Says Noriko: "My father was worried I would ruin my hands for
      cosmetology if I boxed. But I needed the challenge. I needed to be
      tested. It runs in our family."

      While their careers have run down opposite paths, the parallelism in
      those paths is striking.

      By losing himself, Kariya has experienced the greatest season of his

      By losing herself, Noriko has found a career.

      Both transformations have come, perhaps not coincidentally, amid the
      loss of their father, nicknamed "T.K.," who died of a heart attack
      in Vancouver on Dec. 27.

      Kariya chose to honor his father by playing for the Ducks in
      Vancouver the next night. Noriko was so distraught she couldn't

      "My father never wanted us to stop doing what we were doing," says
      Paul. "He taught us to finish what we started. That's one of the
      reasons I've always wanted to stay in Anaheim. I want to finish what
      I started."

      The inspiration remained with Paul throughout the winter. He scored
      the fewest goals in any of his full Duck regular seasons — 25 — but
      discovered a reputation as a leader. He sacrificed the spotlight to
      the likes of Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Petr Sykora but has been
      embraced by fans as the most golden of oldies.

      Who had the puck on his stick in the third overtime of the playoff
      opener against Detroit? Whose goal gave them the win that fueled
      this amazing playoff run? Who do you think?

      Not that Kariya thinks any of this star-becomes-soldier routine is a
      big deal.

      "When a coach comes in and tells you what to do, you do it," Kariya
      says. "It's not 'refreshing.' It's just the way it is. This is how
      we play."

      Babcock, who says Kariya is "light-years" better than when the
      season started — how is that possible? — agrees that his attitude is
      no big deal.

      "Why would you not be like that?" says Babcock, who obviously hasn't
      been watching much NBA these days. "Why would you want to put
      yourself in the way?"

      Whatever, Kariya certainly didn't, paving the way for a championship
      that he was the only Duck to dare to publicly dream about so many
      years ago.

      A similar feeling fills Noriko, who was so impressive in her first
      five fights, she has had seven consecutive potential opponents
      refuse matches.

      "The word has gotten out on her, and it has nothing to do with her
      name," says Brian Bynoe, her co-trainer at the K.O. King Boxing club
      in Toronto. "She has great hand speed, tremendous punching power.
      The hardest part now is finding her a fight."

      That, and getting some sleep. Noriko works as a waitress at a bar-
      restaurant at night, and works out during the day. Her goal is to
      eventually turn professional, not with the circus flailing of a
      Tonya Harding, but with the real punching of a Christy Martin.

      "I've been tested like I've never been tested, but I'm lucky," she
      says. "I have this mental thing that helps me get through it. It has
      helped me in all sports. Everyone in my family has it."

      Paul has never seen her fight. Noriko often watches him play.
      Sometimes it drives her crazy.

      "I see some of the things that happen in here and it's like, if that
      were me, I'd be in there fighting," she said.

      Paul, ever the gentleman, would let her.

      "Women should be allowed to do anything, because they're tougher
      than men," he says. "If you have the ability to go through
      childbirth, that's tougher than anything we do."

      Even tougher than hanging around in Anaheim for nine years waiting
      for a championship?

      Says Noriko: "My brother has such tenacity, such drive, I can't
      imagine how he's done it."

      Says Paul: "I guess it runs in the family."
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