Last week former world champion Katsunari Takayama [高山 勝成] announced his first amateur bout would be taking place on March 1st at the Japanese selection tournament for the 2019 Asian Championships. That has now been cancelled, with the JABF (Japanese Amateur Boxing Federation) releasing a statement on their official blog.
The translated statement can be read in full below, though it doesn't do a great job of explaining why they have cancelled their event, though it seems to revolve around the ASBC tournament featuring 10 divisions in both the male and female competitions, rather than just the ones set for the Olympics, which was still unclear. What could be a problem here is things being lost in translation.
From the Asian Boxing Federary in January, there was a notice to be held in Bangkok, Thailand, in organizing the Asian Championships.
Earlier today former world champion Katsunari Takayama [高山 勝成] announced when he would be back in the ring, fighting as an amateur for the first time since announcing he dream of fighting at the 2020 Olympics.
The incredibly popular former multi-time Minimumweight champion announced that he would be fighting on March 1st at the Asian Championship national selection event.
The event will see the Japanese team for the Asian Championships, in April, being decided. Those who achieve highly at the Asian Championships will then qualify for the World Amateur Championships, with a high placing their granting fighters fighters an Olympic berth. So Takayama has a clear path towards an Olympic place, though it is obviously a tough path there.
This is a huge return for the "Lightning Kid", who last fought when he won the WBO Minimumweight title in August 2016.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
In 2017 the popular Katsunari Takayama (31-8-0-1, 12) [高山 勝成] announced he was retiring from professional boxing, and was hoping to compete for Japan at the 2020 Olympics. He was however up against a system which wanted to deny him that dream and tried to prevent him from becoming an amateur fighter following his professional career.
Since then the Japanese Amateur Boxing Federation has had major upheaval and seen complete clearing out of the former leaders, who were recently deposed with allegations of corruption being rife through the organisation.
That has been great new for Takayama.
Today the former world champion was officially recognised as an amateur fighter and will be allowed to compete in amateur competitions.
At the moment it's unclear when Takayama will be back in the ring, though he did reveal that he's practicing between university classes and he will obviously have to return to an amateur ring in the near future if he's looking to compete at the Tokyo 2020 games.
(Image courtesy of Hochi.co.jp)
It's been well over a year since former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama [高山 勝成] announced he was retiring from professional boxing to begin chasing an Olympic gold medal at the 2020 Olympics. Ever since he made that announcement however he has been fighting the system with the Japanese Amateur Boxing Federation (JBF) refusing to allow him to try and qualify for the Olympics. In their eyes it was a case of being either a professional, or former professional in Takayama's case, or an amateur. There was no going back after making a professional debut.
Over the last few weeks however the JBF have had major upheaval with a number of major officials being deposed, including Akira Yamane. The changes have continued and it's now been reported that rules will change to allow professional fighters to compete at the Olympics for Japan, albeit there does seem to be conditions attached.
At the moment things aren't straight forward, and there doesn't seem to be a unified rule, but the JBF will be getting in touch with Takayama to discuss how he can participate, likely in qualification bouts. It seems like they do plan on allowing fighters to make the move from the professional ranks to the amateurs in the future, though how they do that doesn't yet seem to be decided. It should be noted however that there are two major national champions later this year,
It seems, once again, that Takayama has helped shake up the Japanese system. He was one of the very few fighters who actively chased the IBF and WBO titles when the JBC didn't recognise them, leaving the JBC to fight out of the Philippines, and he's now changed the way the amateur system works in regards to the Olympics. Although he was never one of the biggest names in the sport his impact on the Japanese boxing scene can not be overstated. He really has been one of the countries' most significant fighters in recent memory, even if he fails to reach the Olympics he has changed the system in a big way.
Back in 2017 former multi-time world champion Katsunari Takayama [高山 勝成] announced his retirement from professional boxing, stating he wanted to turn his attention to the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo. Originally he was told he wouldn't be allowed so began a petition that garned 25,000 signatures supporting him, and he delivered that petition to the Japanese Olympic Committee back in March. Despite his campaign the Japanese Boxing Federation have refused to allow him to register as an amateur fighter.
Despite a year of battling the case isn't over for Takayama who, this morning, revealed that things were being taken to the Japan Sports Arbitration Agency (JSAA).
It seems like this is probably going to be the last chapter in the story if Takayama loses, though he will be hoping that the mediation goes in his favour and has the petition to show there is a huge amount of support in his favour.
The fighter appears to have been unable to tie the JOC and JBC down for meetings which is part of why he has gone to the JSAA to act as a neutral party.
The JBF seem to be against any professional fighters returning to the amateur ranks, due to the fact professionals fight for a living whilst amateurs are typically part of an education. That's despite the fact that amateur fighters are allowed to compete at the Olympics, and several did in 2016 with the likes of Amnat Ruenroeng and Hassan N'Dam both doing so, though neither did particularly well.
It's worth noting that Takayama often looked to be a pioneer in the sport. He chased the IBF title around the globe well before the JBC recognised the title, chased the "Grandslam" crown of winning versions of all 4 world titles . This however is looking like a tougher challenger than any of his other ones.
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