To go along with our regular Sunday feature, "10 facts you probably didn't know about..." we've decided to try a similar feature here looking at something a little bit different. The OPBF. Here bring you "10 facts you probably didn't know about... the OPBF"
1-The OPBF was originally founded in 1952 as the OBF, the Oriental Boxing Federation, which it continued to be called until November 1977. It wasn't related to the previous Oriental Boxing Federation (OBF), which had existed before World War 2. It changed it's name after Australia and New Zealand were approved to join, necessitating the addition of "Pacific" to it's name.
2-It was set up by Japan, Thailand and the Philippines, with Korea joining in 1957
3-The OPBF themselves recognise the first OBF champion as Filipino legend Gabriel "Flash" Elorde for his October 18th win over Hiroshi Horiguchi, for the OBF Bantamweight title. In total Elorde fought in 23 OPB title bouts during his legendary career, and he actually fought against the second ever OBF champion, when he challenged Larry Bataan in May 1953 for the OBF Featherweight title. Elorde is also the first OBF champion as recognised by the WBC, who are the world title body associated with the OBF/OPBF.
4-Interestingly Boxrec lists the first OBF champion as Chamroen Songkitrat, who they say won the OBF title Lightweight title on October 13th 1952 with a win over Speedy Cabanela on October 13th 1952. From what we can find Chamroen's reign wasn't officially recognised until March 1953, when he stopped Masashi Akiyama, making him the fourth OBF champion, not the first.
5-The 21 defenses of the OPBF Middleweight title by Jae-Doo Yuh, from 1971 when he beat Cassius Naito to when he retired in 1978, is the most of any champion. Strangely Boxrec list him as having 22 defenses of the belt. The confusion with boxrec here is that the March 30th1975 bout against Nobuyoshi Ozaki, the second bout between the two men, isn't regarded as an official title defense. Regardless of the confusion he's the only fighter to have had 20 or more defenses of an OBF/OPBF title.
6-The "Gentle Giant" Rev Santillan, a Filipino who fought from 1995 to 2010, is the only man to be hold an OPBF title 4 times. He managed to win, and lose, the OPBF Welterweight title 4 times between 2001 and 2008. Interestingly he would fight numerous rematches during that time frame and went 1-1-1 with Hiroshi Watanabe, losing the belt and reclaiming it from Watanabe, losing the belt and regaining it from Kazuhiko Hidaka and losing twice to Motoki Sasaki
7-The OPBF began to recognise women's boxing in 2009, and had no connection to the OPFBA. Despite only being official recognised in 2009 they did recognise Susie Ramadan's 2008 victory over Michelle Preston as the first OPBF female title bout, and when the two rematched in 2009 Ramandan did record the first ever OPBF female title defense.Despite recognising female boxing there are only 11 weight classes recognised, from Atom to Welterweight excluding Light Welterweight.
8-Roman Kovalchuk, who won the OPBF Cruiserweight title in 2000 and defended it once, is the only European fighter to have won an OPBF title. He was from Ukraine.
9-On a similar note Xiong Zhao Zhong is the only Chinese fighter to have held an OPBF title, having won the OPBF title in 2015 with a win over Crison Omayao. Strangely he never defended the title.
10-Several reigning OPBF champions have been beaten by debutants. These include Akio Shibata, who was stopped by Ryota Murata, and Sae Chul Kang, who was beaten over 10 rounds by Ki Soo Kim
Recently we asked on twitter for fighters who fans wanted to see covered in these "10 facts you probably didn't know about..." articles. One of fighters we had requested was Yoko Gushiken, so here are "10 facts you probably didn't know about...Yoko Gushiken".
1-As an amateur Gushiken ran up a 62-3 (50) record
2-Before turning to boxing Gushiken had wanted to play baseball but was turned down by a team due to being too small.
3-Gushiken had a dog that he named after Juan Antonio Guzman, the man he originally beat for the title in 1976.
4-After becoming a world champion in 1976 Gushiken continued to work at a tonkatsu store. In fact he worked there until around the time of his 5th world title defense. His typical shifts were 11am to 3pm and he would typically earn around ¥40,000 a month for his work there.
5-Gushiken was managed by former fighter Masaki Kanehira who opened the Kanehira Gym, which would later become the Kyoei Gym. As a fighter Kanehira had a 15-19-3 (1) record yet his gym would go on to be one of the most significant in Japan
6-Gushiken has revealed on TV that he doesn't like cucumber
7-Gushiken was awarded the equivalent to the Japanese Fighter of the Year award 5 years in a row, form 1976 to 1980
8-"Conquistador" by Maynard Ferguson was his introduction music. The same track was later passed down to his protégé Daigo Higa. This can be heard below in the video on the right.
9-Gushiken was featured in advertising for Okinawa's "730 campaign", which was a a campaign to change the side of the road drivers in Okinawa drove on. The campaign saw Okinawa switch from driving on the right hand side of the road to the left hand side of the road. In the short TV advert he filmed he said something that translates as "People are right, cars are left". This can be seen below in the short video on the left.
10-After retirement Gushiken has become a popular contestant on Japanese quiz shows where he has a reputation for giving humorous, and incorrect answers. Strangely however he has shown an incredible knowledge for Japanese place names and local specialities.
Japanese boxing has many stars, and of the most well known is 4-weight world title holder Kazuto Ioka. The nephew of former 2-weight world champion Hiroki Ioka has been a star in Japan for years, he has been strongly backed by TV giant TBS and has regularly featured on their end of year broadcasts.
There's lots that is known about Ioka but here are 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Kazuto Ioka
1-In junior high school Ioka first boxed out of the Green Tsuda gym, a gym that had trained his father and uncle. Despite training at Green Tsuda gym as an amateur Kazuto wouldn't actually fight out of it as a professional, instead he would actually leave to join the gym his uncle, Hiroki Ioka, had set up.
2-Although a very successful amateur on the Japanese domestic scene Ioka's international amateur success was limited with his most notable achievement being a bronze medal at the 2008 King's Cup, where he lost to Amnbat Ruenroeng in the semi-final.
3-After failing to make the Japanese team for the 2008 Olympics Ioka dropped out of university and decided to turn professional instead, debuting less than a month after his 20th birthday.
4-In his professional debut Ioka defeated Thongthailek Sor Tanapinyo in 3 rounds. At the time Thongthailek was the Thai Flyweight champion, having won the belt 2 months earlier. Interestingly Thongthailek's previous bout in Japan had seen him face off with future Ioka opponent Akira Yaegashi.
5-Ioka retired from boxing at the end of 2017, in fact he did so on December 31st live on Japanese TV channel TBS, following the end of year bouts that TBS had shown as part of their Kyokugen event. The retirement hadn't been a total shock, but his retirement notice had only been accepted by the JBC (Japanese Boxing Commission) 1 day earlier.
6-Outside of boxing Ioka has been married twice. His first marriage was to singer Nana Tanimura whilst the name of his second wife hasn't been widely reported, though she was revealed to have been a model in the past. With his second wife Ioka has a son, who was born on August 17th 2019.
7-As an amateur Ioka went 95-10 (64), one of his few losses on the Japanese scene came in the 2008 All Japan Championship finals to Taro Hayashida. Hayashida is notable for not only this win but also for giving Naoya Inoue one of his very few amateur losses.
8-Early in his career Ioka was referred to as "Golden Boy", taking the nickname of one of his favourite fighters, Oscar De La Hoya.
9-Ioka was dropped in his 4th professional bout by Indonesian foe Heri Amol. The knockdown came in the 9th round from an over-hand right with only seconds of the bell left. Although the shot that sent him down was clean as a whistle he didn't seemed hurt, looked clear headed when he got back to his feet and went on to win the following round.
10-In just his third bout he fought a former world title challenger. His opponent there was Takashi Kunishige, who had challenged Edgar Sosa just 18 months earlier. Ioka took a wide and clear 10 round decision over Kunishge who would remain a notable fighter on the Asian scene right through to his final bout in 2013. Following the loss to Ioka he would go on to lose decisions to Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Norihito Tanaka, Go Odaira, Denver Cuello and Ryuji Hara.
Extra fact - He's very good friends with Japanese musician AK69 and his bout against Aston Palicte saw AK69 do a live performance.
Japanese boxing may not be known for it's "larger" fighters but 2012 Olympic champion Ryota Murata has managed to make a pretty notable impact on the Middleweight division, being a 2-time holder of the WBA "regular" title. Whilst his performance have blown hot and cold Murata is huge in Japan, so with that in mind let's look at 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Ryota Murata
1-Like many boxers Murata has his own favourites, naming Shinsuke Yamanaka and Felix "Tito" Trinidad as his favourites.
2-Murata is the youngest of 3 brothers. His parents divorced when he was in elementary school, though continued to live together at the time.
3-Surprisingly Murata is the only Japanese boxer to have won medals at both the World Amateur championships, taking silver in 2011, and the Olympics, taking a gold in 2012.
4-Murata's professional career began in a rather unique way. Not only did he debut against the then unified Japanese and OPBF champion but he did so as a Top Rank and Teiken promoted fighter fighting out of the Misako gym stable. His official designation with Teiken was that he was Teiken affiliated, essentially they were his match makers whilst Misako were his gym.
5-According to a book Murata wrote, "101%のプライド (which translates as "101% of pride"), he was told be doctors that his skull is "1.5 times thicker" than the average persons, with this coming up in a CT scan. This is similar, in some ways, to the 1996 episode of the Simpsons "The Homer They Fall" where Homer is seen to have more fluid around his brain than normal people.
6-May is a very important month for Murata. He was married in May 2010, his oldest son was born in May 2011 and his oldest daughter was born in May 2014.
7-For a number of bouts, including his recent rematch with Rob Brant, Murata has used "He's a Pirate" from the "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" as his ring walk music. This was due in part to his old teachers from high school.
8-Murata has blood type AB, which in Japan blood theory would make him an eccentric. The traits associated with the blood type include composure, being charming, diplomatic, controlled, rational, a dream chaser, popular and adaptable.
9-Murata's pro-test bout saw him share the ring with former Japanese Middleweight champion Sanosuke Sasaki on April 16th 2013, at the Korakuen Hall, and was aired live in Japan on Fuji TV. Notably this was on the same show as Naoya Inoue's third professional bout, which came against Yuki Sano.
10-Murata and Inoue would also share a broadcast on August 25th as well, when Fuji aired both Inoue's bout with Japanese Light Flyweigth champion Ryoichi Taguchi and Murata's debut with Akio Shibata. Interestingly these two bouts took place on different shows in different cities.
Japanese star Kosei Tanaka has had a number of his bouts streamed worldwide thanks to CBC. Today we look at the 3-weight world champion and bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Kosei Tanaka
1-Tanaka took part in his B license pro-test bout on September 23rd 2013 when he shared the ring with then #9 Japanese ranked Flyweight Yuji Shimizu for 3 rounds. He was then immediately given a pass for a B class license.
2-Despite being unbeaten, and going 8-0 in world title fights, Tanaka has actually been dropped 4 times. He was put down by Vic Saludar at Minimumweight, twice by Palangpol CP Freshmart at Light Flyweight and most recently once by Jonathan Gonzalez. Interestingly he would bounce back from those knockdowns to stop his opponents. Saludar was taken out in round 6, Palangpol in round 9 and Gonzalez in round 7.
3-In 2018, when he defeated Sho Kimura, he tied Vasyl Lomachenko's record for fewest fights to become a 3-weight world champion, doing so in 12 fights. Amazingly he was only 23 when he achieved the feat, whilst Lomachenko was 32. Interestingly Lomachenko achieved the feat only 4 months earlier than Tanaka and took just 3 months less time, having debuted a month before the Japanese fighter.
4-Although known as a CBC fighter, and CBC are an affiliate of TBS, Tanaka has had a fight shown on TBS's Kanto rival Fuji TV. This came in his fourth bout, when he beat Ryuji Hara in a bout for the OPBF Minimumweight title on an episode of Diamond Glove. This is the only time he has had a bout aired in Tokyo on anything other than TBS. This is also the only time, so far at least, that he has fought at the Korakuen Hall.
5-Tanaka's first 14 opponents come from only 6 different countries. He has faced 5 Filipino's, 3 Japanese, 2 Puerto Rican's, 2 Mexican's, a Thai and an Indonesian.
6-His first two professional opponents were both world ranked! His debut came against the then WBO #6 ranked Minimumweight Oscar Raknafa, whilst his second bout came against the WBA #12 ranked Ronelle Ferreras. In fact 5 of Tanaka's first 6 opponents were world ranked by at least 1 of the 4 major title bodies.
7-At the 2013 Asian Youth Championships in the Philippines Tanaka lost to Jade Bornea, 15:13 on the old scoring system. The same tournament also saw rising Uzbek sensation Israil Madrimov pick up a silver medal as well!
8-As a youngster Tanaka went to the gym was headed by former OPBF Super Flyweight champion Hideyasu Ishihara. Like Tanaka Ishihara was regarded as a prodigy, challenging Celes Kobyashi for the Japanese Flyweight title in just his third professional bout. As a professional Ishihara would claim the OPBF title, and twice fight for variations of the WBA title, losing to Martin Castillo in both of those world title bouts.
9-Kosei's ring walk music is "I was Born to Love You" by Queen, as you can see in the video below
10-Whilst we all know Kosei's older brother is also a successful boxer, the family also has another sporting success. That's the Tanaka brother's cousin, Yuhana Yokoi, who's a successful figure skater. Yokoi who came 6th at the 2018 World Junior Championships and 3rd at the 2018 ISU Junior Grand Prix in Armenia, and also competed in the 2019 World Championships.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This coming Tuesday we'll see an all-Japanese bout the for the WBA Light Flyweight title. One of those involved is Hiroto Kyoguchi, a man who's career we've followed very carefully. The other is Tetsuya Hisada, a relative unknown outside of Japan.
To help introduce Hisada we've decided to include him in one of our new features, and we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Tetsuya Hisada
1-Hisada competed in both the 2004 and 2005 Rookie of the Year, at Flyweight. Sadly though he failed to get into the latter stages of either competition. Interestingly he did end Yuki Nasu's KO run in 2005, taking the then 5-0 (5) Nasu 4 rounds, though Nasu ended up winning the All Japan tournament just a few months later.
2-Despite the fact Hisada is, at the time of writing 34-9-2 (20) overall he has gone 11-2 (7) when he's fought at Light Flyweight. The losses in those two bouts have come to Ryoichi Taguchi and Kenichi Horikawa, with the loss to Horikawa being avenged!
3-The losses to Taguchi, in 2011, and Horikawa, in 2013, at Light Flyweight both came in Strongest Korakuen Bouts, which were essentially small tournaments to decide the Japanese mandatory title challengers.
4-Despite the losses in Strongest Korakuen bouts mentioned above he would actually secure his first title bout thanks to the Strongest Korakuen in 2016, when he stopped Hayato Yamaguchi in 7 rounds to secure a place at the following year's Chamnpion Carnival.
5-Hisada was 32 years old, and sporting a 27-9-2 (17) record, when he got his first title fight, a Japanese title bout against Kenichi Horikawa, in what was their third bout.
6-Prior to facing Horikawa for the then vacant belt in April 2017 Hisada had been the mandatory challenger for Kenshiro, who vacated the title to pursue a world title fight against WBC champion Ganigan Lopez.
7-When Hisada faces Hiroto Kyoguchi on October 1st he will be the first fighter from the Harada gym to fight for a world title since Tsuyoshi Harada challenged the then WBC Super Bantamweight champion Daniel Zaragoza 1996! Interestingly Tsuyoshi Harada is the son of the Harada gym chairman Jitsuo Harada
8-Despite facing 4 unbeaten men in his first 5 bouts, including a debutant, Hisada hasn't faced an unbeaten opponent in over 14 years and more than 40 bouts! That ends on October 1st when he faces the 13-0 Kyoguchi.
9-During his career so far Hisada has fought 4 men who, at some point in their career, fought for a world title. These were Junichi Ebisuoka, who challenged the then WBC Minimumweight Oleydong Sithsamerchai in 2008, Ryoichi Taguchi, who would go on to have a solid reign as the WBA Light Flyweight champion, Hiroyuki Kudaka, who had 4 world title shots through his career, and Atsushi Kakutani, who lost to the then WBC Light Flyweight champion Adrian Hernandez. Kyoguchi will be the 5th!
10-Prior to his 5th, and final, defense of the Japanese title in November 2018 Hisada had twins! They were born around a week and a half before he faced Akihiro Toya, and retained his title with a 10 round decision win.
(Image courtesy of the Harada Gym)
On November 5th Naoya Inoue will have his biggest bout to date, as he takes on Nonito Donaire in the WBSS final at the Saitama Super Arena. As one of the biggest names in Japanese boxing, a lot is known about the "Monster", but we think we've come up with "10 facts you probably didn't know about" about Inoue
1-Inoue has A Type blood - In Japan the blood type has been linked to personality traits, with Type A being linked to people who are well organised, diligent, attentive, intense and perfectionists, among other things.
2-Music that has been used for several of Inoue's walk outs in the past, including both of his WBSS bouts, was "Departure" by Japanese composer Naoki Sato. He has used other walk out music, but this has been the most regular one for him, and can be heard in full at the end of this article
3-Inoue didn't originally like the nickname of "Monster", as he revealed in a 2015 interview. In the same interview he stated he has never been dropped or cut, as either a professional or amateur.
4-Inoue's first son was born on October 5th 2017
5-His debut was the first time that a Japanese teenager had debuted in an A class bout, over 8 rounds, and was the first fighter to do so since Takeyuki Akagi had done it in 1987. This makes him only the 7th Japanese fighter to debut in such a bout.
6-Whilst Inoue is strongly linked to Fuji TV his first 2 bouts were both shown on rival TV station TBS as part of their "Guts Fighting" broadcasts, and both were televised on delay.
7-Staying with TV, his third bout, against Yuki Sano, was his first on Fuji TV and was the first live, prime time broadcast of boxing on the channel in more than 20 years. Since then Fuji has become one of the most significant channels in Japanese boxing, and works with a number of notable Japanese fighters. Fuji have aired all of his bouts in Japan since this contest, with WOWOW airing his non-Japanese bouts live.
8-As an amateur at the 2011 Japanese Interschool Meet he beat Ryomei Tanaka in the 49KG final. Tanaka is the older brother of Kosei Tanaka.
9-Also when he was an amateur Inoue and Ryota Murata shared a room at a dormitory and Murata described Inoue as being like a younger brother. Despite the significant size difference the two did train together and Murata had spoken glowingly of Inoue's physical strength.
10-Inoue, along with Ryota Murata and Akira Yaegashi, all played small roles in a Japanese TV Drama based on Fighting Harada, and especially Harada's bouts with Eder Jofre.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).