After having featured a couple of venues and a couple of titles in our "Did You Know..." articles we now turn out attention to a fighter who went on to become one of the most revered trainers in Japanese boxing history. A man who help really shape the Japanese boxing scene, changing how trainers did their job in Japan and really set the foundations for some of the most notable Japanese fighters of all time.
Not only did Eddie Townsend create champions of his own, but he created mentors, and his influence is being felt directly in today's Japanese scene from his former students, several of which have ran their own gyms.
1-Whilst Eddie Townsend is often referred to as an American-Japanese, he was actually partially Irish. His father was an Irish American lawyer and his mother was Japanese.
2-Staying with Eddie's parents for a moment, his mother died when he was just 3 following a disease.
3-After beginning boxing as a youngster Townsend would have notable success in Hawaiian tournaments before turning professional. As a pro Boxrec list him as being 6-1-1 (4), though Japanese source do suggest he was 12-1. That loss, is agreed by all to have come in December 1941, just before the attack on Pearl Harbour.
4-In the 1962 Townsend was invited to Japan by wrestling icon Rikidozan, to begin training boxers at the Riki Gym. The idea behind the invitation was for Townsend to create Heavyweight boxers in Japan, incidentally in just a few days time we'll see the most successful Japanese Heavyweight, Kyotaro Fujimoto, make his international debut in England against Daniel Dubois. Sadly the hopes of Rikidozan ended the the following year when Rikidozan died following issues after being stabbed by a member of the Yakuza.
5-Despite the untimely passing of Rikidozan the services of Eddie Townsend were in demand and several notable gyms invited him to train their boxers, including the legendary Yonekura gym.
6-The first world champion that Eddie trained was also an Hawaiian-born Japanese-American, Takeshi Fuji. Fuji would be recognised by both the WBA and WBC as the Light Welterweight champion following his 1967 win over Sandro Lopopolo, though would later be stripped of the WBC title, then lose the WBA title in 1968 to Nicolino Locche.
7-Other world champions to train under Eddie Towsend were Hiroyuki Ebihara, Kuniaki Shibata, Guts Ishimatsu, Tadashi Tomori and Hiroki Ioka, who has ran a successful gym himself.
8-As well as the world champions Townsend also trained "Rocky of Naniwa" Hidekazu Akai, Cassius Naito, Eijiro Murata and Kiyoshi Tanabe.
9-In 1990, just a couple of years after Townsend's death, an award in his honour was established. The "Eddie Townsend Award" is an annual award given to recognise the best trainer in Japan.
10-In 2004 a monument was built in his honour in Shirahama.
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).