The combination of beauty and fighting skills isn't something that is unique to "Rowdy" Ronda and in fact through time there has been notable female fighter who have been able to both kick ass and look great doing it. Previous examples include Russian-Kazakh Natascha Ragosina and Regina Halmich who both helped to popularise female boxing in parts of Europe.
In Japan their is, of course, the rise of Tomomi Takano (5-0, 4), a fighter who is having her career managed very well so far and a fighter who manages to get more media attention than many of her male counter parts. The reason Takano has had her popularity is certainly more due to her looks than her skills, though both the fighter and her team are working hard to improve her in ring ability so that she really can break through into becoming a real star.
For Takano the first big test of her boxing ability will come on June 24th when she battles Kai Johnson (4-5-3, 1) in what is a very well matched bout. Win or lose Takano is still years away from having a chance of winning a world title. She has the physical attributes to go a long way, with her rangy and tall body being perfect for an outside fighter, but technically she isn't nearly ready to fight anyone close to world level.
At 23 years old Kuroki is a boxing baby yet is already a world champion and with her looks a potential major cross over star who is just as capable of beating world class fighters as she is strutting her stuff on the catwalk. Better yet she seems to realise the potential that her image has and is confident enough to play on it. She has shown her awareness of this part of her life more than once, though the most notable example was at the weigh in prior to her world title winning effort against Mari Ando back in May. For that weigh in she looked stylish, fashionable and, we dare say, hot.
Whilst the others at the weigh in came in wearing typical casual street clothes such as jeans or jogging bottoms Yuko appeared on a short skirt and high heels. It was as if she wasn't just thinking about the fight that was coming up but also the potential long potential of her image. It was almost like she was using the weigh in as an advertisement of herself to any and all fashion labels in Japan.
Although it's way too early to describe Yuko Kuroki as a bona fide future star there is no doubting that if she keeps winning she could well become one of the few female fighters to break through from merely being a "female boxing champion" to being a female boxing star.
Of course a lot depends on the future but with her looks, style, charisma and talent in the ring Kuroki really could be Japanese boxing's answer to Ronda Rousey, except a little bit less bitchy and with less of a chip on her shoulder. The personable quality that Kuroki shows on both her twitter and her blog shows a woman who seems all too aware that you don't need to be controversial to be popular and that, eventually, talent will win over the fans.
(Images courtesy of:
Unfortunately video of Yuko Kuroki in action is scarce, though we have found some, albeit old, footage courtesy of go5nickey