The Cat boxes her way to the top

Mannheim employees have a reigning world boxing champion in their midst. A visit with Raja Amasheh.

If you visit Raja Amasheh in her office at Roche Mannheim, you’ll be greeted by a petite woman just 1.58 meters tall. Yet despite her size, Raja comes across as anything but fragile and in need of protection. Her firm expression and posture radiate resolve and self-confidence—useful qualities if, like her, you realize early on that you aim to make it all the way to the top.

Raja was born in Jordan in 1982, and was still a baby when her family moved to Berlin, where she grew up with her four siblings. Assertiveness is essential in any big family, yet very few people who acquire this skill at an early age go on to become a world boxing champion.

Raja joined Roche Diabetes Care in 2012. As Partner and Product Care Manager, she is responsible for business with partner companies as well as for product maintenance and support. Her job is to monitor Diabetes Care’s product supply capability. “I like taking on responsibility. In my current role, I’m Head of the development team for the DiaPort implant and the Insight cartridge, the insulin ampoule for the new Accu-Chek insulin pump,” says the 31-year-old. She says she’s always been ambitious, both in her work and sports.

I’ve always liked an audience and I function best under pressure.
Raja Amasheh
Raja is the 2013 Intercontinental Flyweight and World Superflyweight Champion

Raja first took up martial arts in 2002 in Salz­burg. Just one year later, she had entered kick- and Thai boxing contests. She took home the gold at the Women’s World Kickboxing Championships in Spain in 2008 before switching to boxing; she was so successful that she was ready to turn professional in 2009. In 2013, she became Intercontinental Flyweight Champion and World Superflyweight Champion. “Being competitive is part of my nature,” Raja explains. “I’m highly focused.”

This focus, the urge to progress and constantly do better, also shapes her professional career. Raja calls it “staying in the flow.” After completing her bachelor’s in business management, she started a master’s degree part-time while working. Raja didn’t feel the dual demands of work and studying were a burden. “I found pursuing an advanced degree very enriching,” she says.

The days in the run-up to a match are planned down to the last detail: Every morning before work, Raja trains for an hour, and after work she runs and works with barbells for 90 minutes. Her co-workers have grown accustomed to having a world boxing champion among their ranks. “Some of them root for me when I have a match. They send me e-mails and are happy when I win.” Which she does, regularly: Raja is unbeaten as a professional boxer. “Boxing doesn’t teach you how to deal with pressure and be tough. These are qualities you have to bring to the sport and develop into strengths,” she tells myRoche. “I’ve always liked an audience and I function best under pressure.”

This also means that Raja, who fights under the name “The Cat” and always makes her entrance to the tune of “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys, is better during the actual match than during training. The latest opponent to learn this the hard way was Eva “The Golden Baby” Voraberger from Vienna, who lost her world championship title to Raja last year.

Raja is well aware that she will face a stronger opponent one day, and she’ll be ready to retire from professional sports when the time is right. But that certainly isn’t now.

Tags: People