Pen, ink, china marker, and gouache on paper, Image: 13"h x 10"w, framed: 15.75"h x 12.75"w, Item No. 18470,
Antonina and her younger sister Valentina are Kyrgyzstani-Peruvian professional Mixed Martial Artists and Muay Thai fighters— both currently competing in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Valentina is the current Flyweight Champion of the World.
The story of the Shevchenko sisters is a unique and remarkable one. They were born in Kyrgystan— then part of the former USSR, to Elena: president of the Muy Thai association and herself a multiple time Muay Thai champion, and their father who served in the Soviet Navy. As a child, Valentina was already a skilled Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Vale Tado, and kickboxing practitioner; by age 12, she knocked out her 22-year-old opponent- earning her the nickname “Bullet” given to her by her trainer Pavel Fedotov. For her part, Antonina fought professionally— winning 39 out of 40 kickboxing and Muay Thai bouts between 2003 and 2017. Between the two of them, Antonina and Valentina have won more gold, silver, and bronze medals, and earned more black belts, than seems humanly possible for one person— let alone for two siblings! Valentina is considered a Master of Boxing, Kickboxing, and Judo; has won dance competitions, and pistol firing competitions; and earned a Bachelors Degree in Film.
The Shevchenko sisters, along with their coach Fedotov (who is also Antonina’s husband), live, teach, and hold citizenship in Peru. There, they are involved in an award-winning initiative that offers Muay Thai training to marginalized youth as an alternative to joining gangs. In my celebration of them, I’ve layered ephemera— ie trash—gathered from all over the world to reference their story: Muay Thai flyers from Thailand; Kung Fu playing cards from Hong Kong; Duracell and Ray-O-Vac packaging that attests to their high-voltage athleticism; Modelo beer boxes torn to spell “Model”, and Henna packaging portraying a fox— both being in reference to the feminine beauty the pair retain (despite the fact that Valentina wrestled a male Middleweight Champion, and won)!