Over the weekend we had a chance to send an interview the way of Japanese based American Brandon Lockhart (8-5-1, 7). The Light Middleweight-come-Middleweight celebrates his 6th year as a professional fighter in 2017 and looks to continue on a career which has seen him share the ring with a world title challenger and reach the final of the All Japan Rookie of The Year. Although not a huge name Brandon has always been of interst to use as a foreign fighter making his way in Japan and really charmed us a little whilst back with an apearance in a Morioka Gym video promoting one of their shows
Like many fighters who fight away from their land of birth Brandon has had a great reaction from the fans in his new home and has really made himself a part of the local community, as you'll find out during the interview, which we really do want to say a huge public thank you for.
Asian Boxing-Hi Brandon, thanks for agreeing to this interview, it means a lot to us and our readers, especially given the language barrier a lot of Western fans have with Japanese boxing in general. That leads nicely into my first question, how hard was it to adapt to life in Japan as a "Gaijin" in the country? And what originally attracted you to Japan to in the first place?
Brandon Lockhart-In my opinion, moving to a foreign for anyone is a huge leap into the unknown. Small things we don't pay attention to or take for granted can become bigger things in other countries. My transition to the Japanese life style was smooth in my opinion. I previously studied abroad here for 4 months in college, so I had a feint idea about life here. Even though my time abroad here helped, there were many things I was not prepared for such as long periods of isolation, working in a different culture and system, and being totally independent. But I learned to adjust and had an open minded which I think is the most important thing to have living in a different culture.
I first came to Japan because I just wanted to experience something different. Up until that point I had never been abroad in my adult life. I just wanted to get away in a sense and have a story to tell.
AB-Along a similar line, what attracted you to boxing?
BL-Boxing has always been something I have been interested in. Growing up my family and friends would get together and watch matches on cable TV. Huge stars such as Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe were from my city of Brooklyn, so it filled us with a sense of pride. At a young age basketball was a common and readily accessible sport so that's what I came to love. It wasn't until I came to Japan that I found a boxing gym near my house, so then I decided to give it a shot.
AB-Again staying with your early boxing, did you have much of an amateur career or not?
BL-In the beginning, it was just for fun and fitness but then I started to become serious. Without any experience I decided to become pro. So I learned along the way, which has been difficult but rewarding. I learned so much about myself in the ring. My fears, worries, strengths and ability to persevere after a hard lose. My biggest learning experience has been the lesson of controlled aggression. KOs are great but just brute strength is not enough in this sport. Thinking, adjusting, pacing and timing are keys to be great in this sport. Watching better fighters than myself and losing fights have taught me to be mentally strong as well as physically.
AB-During your career you've faced a few notable fighters, who would you say the toughest you've faced, and what about them made them tougher than the others?
BL-To date I think my hardest fight was the Fuchigami fight. Not so much that he was a better fighter than me, but because there were so many new things I wasn't accustomed to. Being a main event fighter, going to fight so far from home, him having so much more experience than me and having the pressure put on myself that I would lose on the score card if the fight went the distance. I was overwhelmed by the experience so when I knocked him down twice I kind of tightened up and went for the kill too early and ran out of gas. But because of this experience, I became a better fighter.
[Editors note - Makoto Fuchigami is a former Japanese an Oriental Middleweight champion best known for facing Gennady Golovkin in a world title bout. Brandon fought him in June 2016]
AB-Is there any idea when you'll be back in the ring? Or who your team are looking at get you in with next?
BL-Not too sure on my next opponent yet but hopefully soon there will be talks soon. I'm ready to get back in the ring.
AB-I know you're part of the Morioka gym, which also has Naoto Iwai and Hinata Maruta among others, what's the general feel of the gym?
BL-The gym is like family. I'm so proud and honored to be apart of Morioka gym. We support each from the small kids to the pros to the regular gym members. We all want to achieve the best for each other. We are taught not to be just good fighters but also good human beings. Greetings and how you conduct yourself are important points in life that are reinforced in the gym. It's something's difficult to fit in Japan being a foreigner, but I feel right at home in Morioka gym.
AB-Away from boxing I understand your a teacher, what was it about teaching that appealed so much?
BL-Well, I have always wanted to be a teacher. I lost my way in college and really didn't have a clue in what I wanted to do in life. So I came to Japan on a program called J.E.T. It's a program where native english speakers come to assist in schools around Japan. I enjoyed teaching but was put in a very limited role due to the emphasis of test based English rather than conversational English. So with the help of a friend, I run an English conversational school in my city. It has its up and downs but I enjoy it very much.
AB-And moving further away from boxing what do you enjoy to do in your spare time?
BL-In my down time I like to play video games, watch movies and enjoy time with my kids. I have 2 girls aged 10 and 8, and a boy who just turned 2. So I'm always doing something. Lol. It's great being a father.
AB-Also is there any messages you'd like to leave fans with? Any parting words?
BL-Just want to let everyone know that life is a strange and wonderful thing that we don't know where it will take us. Just enjoy the ride, give thanks and take it for what it is.
Again we'd like to say a huge thanks to Brandon for taking time out of his week to answer our questions and we wish him, and the rest of the Morioka gym, the best of luck in the future.
(Image of Brandon courtesy of the Morioka gym)
Not sure this needs to be explained! But here are out interviews with fighters!