One of the things about boxing that we all agree on is that promoters could, and should, do more to grow the sport, rather than try to line their own pockets and make excuses for fights not taking place. Whether it's Bob Arum, Oscar De La Hoya, Eddie Hearn, Frank or any number of others we could pretty much rant about them all. There isn't many promoters putting the sport first and themselves second.
Thankfully however there are some, and for us the stand this year, and the worth winner of The 2020 Asian Boxing Awards - Promoter of the Year is Ichitaro Ishii, a man who has consistently thought outside the box, developed the sport, put on great shows and made people care about fighters.
A few months ago we wondered what made a promoter a "good promoter" and for us it's not the money, it's not how many PPV's they put on or how much they pay their fighters. To be quite frankly honest we'd like 0 PPV's please and we're not seeing a penny that a fighter makes we don't care about their purses.
For us a good promoter's gives fans consistently good shows, makes them care, and buy in for the journey, and proves to have shows that are reliably good. Ishii, along with Issei Nakaya of the Hachioja Nakaya Gym, have been doing that. Show after show the A-Sign brand have been making us care, making us want to follow the story of emerging fighters and getting us to feel like bouts are going to be special.
A lot of that is down to the match making, making bouts that look interesting and should deliver something worthy of note. That is one thing the A-Sign shows have done, notably with their end of year show, where we had Masayuki Ito Vs Hironori Mishiro and Jin Sasaki Vs Aso Ishiwaki, but it's not the only thing.
A-Sign have been giving shows to fans via YouTube, using YouTube as a very significant part of their platform. It would be easy to sit here and talk about how excellent the A-Sign streams of events are, and they are, but that's only a fraction of what A-Sign do with Youtube. They also talk about boxing, with Ishii doing sit down talks about recent bouts and events, and they do a "day in the life" style documentaries, to try and make fans learn more about the fighters. It's through that style of documentary that they accidentally helped Takuya Yamaguchi become a star of sorts, despite his limitations in the ring. They gave a relative nobody the chance to shine as a person, and he did just that. They have also allowed for sparring to be shown on YouTube, further allowing fans a chance to see the fighters and even get a read on the styles of the men involved.
Maybe more importantly than any of that however is the way he has made crowd sourcing one of the key facets of boxing. Yes boxing has crowd funding before A-Sign boxing, and will have it for years to come, but the way A-sign have done it is genius, and they used the documentaries as a reason to for fans to essentially donate to fighters directly. The was game changing during 2020, allowing fighters to essentially sell themselves directly to fans.
That was also helped by the online Salon's that Ishii was responsible for, and the way they mixed the fighters and key Japanese boxing media, like Daisuke Sugiura and Naoki Fukuda.
One other facet is that the A-Sign brand is now synonymous with quality events. That is the sign of a good promoter. He has made the A-Sign brand matter, and he has done so by working closely with other promoters, building essentially a team of promoters to put on events under his banner, in a mutually beneficial agreement.
In a year where live TV events were few and far between for Japanese fans Ishii filled a void, and did so, so much more.
Take a bow Sir, you are our promoter of the year and we suspect in 4 or 5 years fans internationally are going to be talking about what you've been doing for boxing and how the A-Sign YouTube channel has helped sow seeds of what boxing promotion can, and should, be about.
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