Sadly since then a lot has chanced in Korea and boxing has certainly changed for the worse with the once great Korean boxing scene looking like a shell of it's former self. The structure of Korean boxing is a mess, the best fighters, such as Min Wook Kim, have essentially walked away from the country and even the promising fighters, such as Ye Joon Kim and Ja Ik Goo, aren't being kept in the sport in the way they should be.
The fall from grace of the Korean boxing scene has been disappointing to say the least and it's been years since Korea last had a male world champion. In fact the last Korean male to hold recognised world title was was In Jin Chi in 2007, and the last Korean to fight for a world title was Jun-Oh Son, back in 2013 when he almost shocked Koki Kameda.
So poor is the Korean boxing scene that the biggest talking point this week wasn't about any of their active fighters but instead it was about former world champion Yong-Soo Choi (29-4-1, 19) who has announced that he will return to boxing later this year.
Choi, currently aged 42 though he'll be 43 by the time he fights, was one of the Korean stars of the 1990's. His memorable win over Victor Hugo Paz was sensational and saw Choi claim the WBA Super Featherweight title, a title he would defend 7 times until he was narrowly beaten by Takanori Hatakeyama in Japan, in what was their 2nd meeting. The world title was the icing on the cake for Choi who had previously won Korean and OPBF titles.
Despite the loss to Hatakeyama in 1998 we saw Choi continue on as he attempted to become a 2-weight world champion though in 2003 he came up short against Sirimongkol Singwancha and decided to call an end to his career at the age of 30.
Choi would later resurface in K1 where he fought 4 times, running up a 3-1 (2) record. He then tried his hand as a boxing promoter though failed to reinvigorate the sport from outside of the ring.
According to the Korean boxing commission Choi will be making his return against a Japanese opponent in August. There doesn't seem to be a set foe, venue or date though it's though he will be fighting another "older" opponent.
From what we understand Choi is doing this to give confidence to others at a similar age to himself, though we suspect that there is ulterior motive to the move with the fighter possibly bringing more attention to the Korean boxing scene. It's possible that the former champion could help young men remember how great their country's history in the sport is and could foster interest in boxing once again.
Min Wook Kim training alongside Miguel Vazquez in Mexico, will return to ring on March 21st!
(Image thanks to http://news.tf.co.kr)