Earlier today it was revealed that Eigoro Akai [赤井英五郎], the eldest son of former world title challenger Hidekazu Akai [赤井英和] was turning professional, and would be doing so under the Teiken banner.
Akai senior was one of the most popular Japanese fighters of his time and was dubbed the "Rocky of Naniwa" for his exciting style and aggression. Sadly his career came to an end when he was just 25 years old due to an in ring brain injury. Despite his injury Hidekazu Akai has managed to reinvent himself and become a prominent "talent" and actor in Japan with a host of acting credits, and is now often thought of as an actor first rather than a boxer.
Eigoro on the other hand didn't seem likely to follow in his father's footsteps. In fact the youngsters didn't really begin to until 2012, when he was 19, and inspired by the success of Ryota Murata at the 2012 London Olympics. At that point in time Eigoro was in the US and began to train, before returning to Japan when he was at University and continued with the sport, winning a national championship. The aim was to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, but that dream died, and instead of staying as an amateur he has decided to turn professional.
The plan going forward is for Eigoro to compete this year in the Rookie of the Year, and he seems to have real hunger for the sport.
Given how popular his father was in the ring having the Akai surname could be great for his profile and make it easy for him to get attention. Sadly however it will also put a lot of pressure on his shoulders and give a level of expectation on how he fights. Thankfully however with Teiken guiding his career we suspect he'll be fine and will be allowed to develop his own style in the gym.
Earlier today news broke that popular former Japanese amateur fighter, turned successful actor, Hidekazu Akai has been appointed for a role with the Japan Amateur Boxing Federation.
The "Rocky of Nanaiwa" will be part of an online press conference on Friday to speak about the role, though the role seems to be about promoting the sport, with the role coming as part of the promotion committee.
Although not that well known outside of Japan Akai was a huge star in Osaka, where his exciting and aggressive style and heavy hand earned him a place as a fan favourite. Internationally he is best known for his 1983 bout with Bruce Curry, for the WBC Light Welterweight title, in which he was stopped in the 7th round. Sadly his in ring career came to an end less than 2 years later, when he suffered a brain hemmorhage after a bout with Masaharu Owada. He was given little chance to live, but battled back and has become a genuinely notable actor in his homeland, in fact some will know him more as an actor than a fighter.
His appointment within the Japan Amateur Boxing Federation seems to have been a really smart one. He's popular, he's well known, he's a former boxer himself and should work as a a brilliant way to promote the sport through Japan.
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