In February we reported that Susumu Hanagata [花形進] had become the head of the East Japan Boxing Association. He started his new job yesterday, not just as the East Japan head, but also as the chairman of the Japanese Pro Boxing Assocation (JPBA). Yesterday he chaired his first JPBA session with the directors of the board and laid down his team and his plans.
Mr Hanagata has pledged to strengthen the social activity and has created a new committee to advance that plan, he has also hired a number of new people to help him run Japanese boxing, including the heads of the Yokohama Hikari Gym and RK Kamata.
In other changes they will begin looking at allowing martial artists from other sports to compete more freely in boxing, which would open the door to a potential boxing-kick boxing career for Tenshin Nasukawa. This hasn't been allowed in the past, but would be a massive change if enacted.
Also TV commentators to enter the ring, to see in ring interviews like we see in the US and UK.
Neither of those change have been ratified but seem to be his key points going forward.
We are very happy to report that the "Strongest Korakuen" will return in 2015, though it will return in an altered form.
In the past the "Strongest Korakuen" has been a small tournament to decide the #1 contender for the Japanese national titles. The competition was, for years, one of the most important in Japan sitting just behind the "Rookie of the Year" in terms of popularity though was incredibly significant.
The tournament was dropped this year as participant numbers were seen to be dropping and the Japan Professional Boxing Association (JPBA) tried to think of a way to bring it back with a difference next year. They've done that by announcing that the "Strongest Korakuen" will not be fought as a tournament next year but instead a 1-off bout to decide the top contender for a title fight.
Full details haven't yet been released though we suspect the bouts will be fought near the end of the year and will feature the top contenders, or at least the top contenders who are willing to participate. We'd also suspect that the winners will fight for a title the following years.
As well as the announcement of the "Strongest Korakuen" we've also heard that the JPBA have announced that they will begin to award a "Lifetime Achievement Award". From what we understand this award will be dubbed the Piston Horiguchi Award after the legendary Tsuneo "Piston" Horiguchi, though we're not sure on any further details regarding the award.
(Image courtesy of http://wbcboxing.com)
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