Over the weekend there was real confusion over the future of the legendary Kyoei gym. A press conference was held on Saturday with Keiichiro Kanehira announcing that he was stepping down as the gym's chairman due to issues with the gym's owners, and that the gym's activities in professional boxing would be suspended. Soon after that announcement the website stated that the media had got it wrong and the gym wasn't set to close.
Today we saw some clarity, and it wasn't great news for the gym.
Mr Kanehira visited the East Japan Boxing Association offices in Tokyo where he submitted the notice to suspend pro boxing at the gym. The association accepted the notice and with Mr Kanehira stepping down as chairman the gym is essentially without a license.
Reports from Japan suggest that on November 27th tensions escalated to breaking point, and that was when a decision was essentially made for Kanehira's contract with the gym to end. Mr Kanehira stated there had been monetary troubles, though specific details were unclear at the time.
Whilst the gym is expected to restart professional boxing activity in the future, this very much seems like a real issue of trust and finances. The once powerful Kyoei has fallen behind Teiken in recent years, and the gym that Mr Kanehira's father had established is now a shadow of what it once was.
Although personal issues between Mr Kanehira and the gym owners seem to be central to the gym suspending it's activities it is worth noting that two of the gym's fighters, Kyonosuke Kameda (5-1-1, 4) [亀田京之介] and Takeshi Takehara (5-0, 1) [竹原毅], are pencilled in for the 2019 All Japan Rookie of the Year Finals on December 22nd. They look very much like innocent victims of the situation, and the hope is the JBC will allow them to transfer to a new gym sooner rather than later.
Interestingly the Kameda Gym, who have long had Mr Kanehira as strong ally, may well look at this as a chance to petition the JBC for a new license under Mr Kanehira. Though that is speculation on our behalf, as a potential work around more than anything that has gotten mentioned in the Japanese press.
(image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
In 2014 the Kameda Gym was stripped of it's professional boxing license by the JBC, who went further than just stripping the gym but also it's management stripping the licenses of both gym Chairman Yoshi Shinji and that of gym manager Shima Satoshi. With the licenses being revoked following a situation where Daiki Kameda [亀田 大毅] lost in a unification bout to Liborio Solis, but kept his title as Solis missed weight. The issues was said to have annoyed both the JBC and the Japanese boxing fans, who had felt mislead, being informed that a loss would see Kameda lose the belt.
Now it seems the JBC will issue both Mr Shinji and Mr Shima their licenses back as they begin to try and let the gym re-enter Japanese boxing.
At the moment the three fighters linked to the gym, the Kameda brothers, are no longer there. Both Daiki, and Koki Kameda [亀田 興毅] have retired and taken over the duties of trainers, whilst Tomoki Kameda (34-2, 20) [亀田和毅] has transferred to the Kyoei gym, who have backed him in his last two fights and helped him to fight back in Japan.
What is interesting however is that Koki has began training a new novice, one of the fighters he faced in a special show on AbemaTV. It could well be that that fighter will sign with the Kameda gym when it reopens, ahead of his proposed debut later in the year.
As a result of the two men getting their licenses back they have agreed to drop their damage claims against the JBC. The same however cannot be said of the Kameda brothers, who are trying trying to sue the JBC for a large sum, said to be the equivalent of 2 years of fight money. That case is still pending but we suspect thecase may have been harmed by the fact that all 3 Kameda's were either active during much of that two year period, with all 3 fighting in the US, or injured, with Daiki under-going serious eye surgery at one point. That case is expected for some time and isn't likely to be dropped as easily as the damage case of Mr Shinji and Mr Satoshi.
Things just seem to go from bad to worse for the Kameda's and earlier today it was announced that both Koki Kameda (32-1, 17) and Daiki Kameda (29-4, 18) were to be removed from the Japanese rankings.
The two brothers have not fought at all this year they've been meaning more than 6 months of inactivity. The JBC, in accordance with their rules, have therefore taken both men from the rankings rather than allowing them to sit there taking up high ranking places.
This move is the latest in a string of JBC Vs Kameda brothers incidents which has, of course, seen the JBC strip the license away from the Kameda Gym and refuse to allow Shigeyuki Otake to become the president of the K3 gym. In effect this has left the Kameda's with out a home to fight from domestically with the JBC almost demanding them to transfer to a more trusted gym.
As for Tomoki Kameda, the current WBO Bantamweight champion, he is still recognised as a world title holder though he's not allowed to fight in Japan, just like his brothers. He's gotten around that by basing his next fight in the US though it appears that his bout won't be televised in either the US or Japan and it may end up only being shown on Thai TV of all places!
Although we won't second guess the Japanese Boxing Commission there is every chance that this this wasn't so much the JBC following their own rules as them again trying to force the Kameda's to either accept the situation they are in or force them out of the sport, at least in Japan.
On Monday the Kameda Brothers were hit by the latest in a long line of of bad news as their application to have Shigeyuki Otake become the new president of their gym was refused by the East Japan Boxing Association.
The ruling came in several parts:
Firstly the Kameda Gym, now known as "K3" will remain inactive. This will prevent any of the brothers from fighting in Japan for now. This is merely a continuation of a previous ruling that prohibited the Kameda's from promoting their own fights.
Secondly Shigeyuki Otake can, in the future, apply to run his own gym. The decision not to allow him to run the K3 gym is due to the fact that it's effectively the same as it was when the license was taken away and the Association seems to feel that that was the real problem.
Thirdly if the Kameda's want to fight in Japan they will have to join another gym. The alternative is to base themselves outside of Japan.
Fourthly, and most pertinently, the the Association will request the WBA do not push forward with attempting to make Kohei Kono (30-8, 13), the WBA Super Flyweight champion, fight Koki Kameda (32-1, 17). Whilst the bout could be made, for example in Macau or Singapore, the Association will request that Kono faces a change of opponent. If the WBA accept the request it's likely that Kono would be facing Mexican David Sanchez (25-2-2, 19) next, unless he is allowed to take a mandatory title defence.
Although the Kameda's can attempt to convince the West Japan Boxing Association that they've changed it would seem unlikely that the West Association would give the Kameda's a licence either and effectively this seems to be a decision that finally puts a nail in the Kameda's as a promotional outfit.
(Image courtesy of the JPBA)
Reports coming out of Japan this morning are that we are about to see the Kameda Gym take it's first step towards being re-licensed by the JBC. What we believe is either about to happen, or has just happened, is that former Kyoei Gym trainer Shigeyuki Otake, himself a former fighter has agreed to be the new chairman of the Kameda Gym.
Whilst this is a huge step towards the Kameda's and the JBC rectifying the issues they have with each other it doesn't guarantee a new license for the gym. Before the JBC will allow the Gym to continue they will also have to hire a new president and both the Chairman and President will need to be accepted by the JBC.
In the case of Mr Otake we don't imagine the JBC will have any problems with him and will likely let the 56 year old take up his position with out any interference.
From what we know about Mr Otake he is a 56 year old who was born in Shirakawa though is now living in Tokyo. It was in Tokyo that he fought 12 times professionally as part of his 14 fight professional career that began in 1977 and ended in 1981. It later turned out that he was a better trainer than a fighter and he won the very highly regarded Eddie Townsend award in 2007 for his work with Takefumi Sakata. The credentials and his history in the sport will likely see the JBC having no issues with him and it may well be just a few weeks before the Kameda Gym is back in action in Japan.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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