Juts over 3 weeks ago, in the final meaningful bout of 2020, we saw WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] score an excellent 8th round TKO win over fellow Japanese fighter Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成] to retain his world title.
Following that win there was some furor in Japan about Ioka breaking a JBC rule in having his tattoo visible, which now covers his entire left arm. This breaches a rule that states "a person with a tattoo or other style that makes the audience feel uncomfortable" is unable to compete in a bout.
Yesterday the JBC Ethics Committee met to decide on what was going to be done in regards to Ioka's punishment for breaching the rule, and whether the rule itself needed changing to meet more modern and liberal stands when it comes to tattoos and body art. The decision from that Committee meeting was announced today.
In regards to the punishment there was 6 different potential penalties ranging from a Strict Caution right through to revoking his license, and his ability to fight in Japan.
Thankfully common sense won out, at least partially, and Ioka was merely given a "strict caution", a proverbial "don't do that again, you bad boy".
The explanation for the punishment was "the coating that hides the tattoo was peeled off and the player continued the match with the tattoo on his left arm exposed. This violates Article 95, Item 2 of the JBC Rule, and the Commission will take Kazuto Ioka with strict caution."
A similar punishment was also given to Takuya Kitani, the owner of the Ambition Gym. The explanation here was "The Foundation has determined that Takuya Kitani must be responsible for overseeing the facts mentioned above as a club owner."
JBC general secretary Tsuyoshi Yasukochi sent comments regarding the matter to the media and explained why the punishment was what it was, and potential alterations to the way the rule is applied:
"Given that JBC should have thoroughly managed it, in the future, in similar cases, we will consider measures such as using a coating agent designated by JBC or having a designated contractor perform coating treatment. want to go."
Notably however the rule itself is not set to be changed, with Mr Yasukochi explaining:
"We received various opinions about tattoos this time, but we are not thinking about changing the JBC rules at this time."
Essentially it seems like the JBC have given Ioka and his teams the lightest punishment they could, for breaking the rules, but have accepted they should have enforced it better, and will be focusing on doing that in the future.
However the decision not to change the rule is a big one. It seems that the rule will change, one day, and this was a chance to "get with the times" so to speak. It feels like a bit of a missed opportunity, though it likely a decision made with the likes of TV channels and the older fans in mind.
Earlier today the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) and the Japan Professional Boxing Association (JPBA) held their later held their latest meeting of the coronavirus countermeasure liaison council following the Japanese government issuing a state of emergency in and around the Tokyo area.
The areas affected are the Tokyo Metropolitan area and the Prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba.
The council took the position that boxing needs to try and show self restraint, though haven't gone as far as they did last year, where boxing was completely stopped. Instead the plan is for boxing to be allowed, but for events to finish by 8PM if fans are are in attendance in the areas affected, and the hope being that even if there are no fans events should still be done by 8PM if possible.
Interestingly it also seems that gym are also expected to close at 8PM as well, in the areas affected.
Shosei Nitta, the JPBA General Secretary, spoke about the success of current measures and stated "We resumed the shows in July and no virus-infected person has appeared at the match venue. We have a track record."
It was also noted that a promoter will need to secure the services and space of a medical institution, typically a local hospital, or shows won't be allowed to go ahead.
Rather notably a fighter who has agreed a fight in the region affected by the state of emergency, but decides they don't want to fight due to health and safety concerns are allowed to pull out of the event without repercussions. Typically this would be a breach of contract, but with the current situation as it is, there will be some leniency.
The restrictions, such as when an event can finish, will last through to February 7th, when the state of emergency is scheduled to be lifted. This means only 7 events are currently affected by the changes. The first of those will be a show at Korakuen Hall on January 14th, which will finish by 8PM and will have fans.
The JBC also announced that a male fighter in his 20 from a gym in Kanagawa has tested positive for Covid19. They are quarantining at home and haven't been to their gym lately, and the gym is currently open.
It's worth noting that the government have now put limits on attendances, with either 50% of the venue, or a maximum of 5,000, allowed at an event.
One New Year's Eve we saw WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] retain his title with an 8th round TKO win over fellow Japanese fighter Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成], in what was a fantastic bout to end 2020.
Yesterday in Japan news broke that despite the win Ioka may be in trouble with the JBC for breaking one of their rules.
The JBC rule in question states "a person with a tattoo or other style that makes the audience feel uncomfortable" is unable to compete in a bout.
Typically a fighter with a tattoo is allowed to fight in Japan, the Western interpretation of the rule banning tattoos altogether, though the tattoo must be concealed. Usually this is done with sporting tape, concealing and various inoffensive powders, used to mask the colour and shape of the tattoo. The rule is also, only really, applicable to Japanese fighters and doesn't apply to international fighters, making it a very inconsistent rule at the best of times.
Reportedly Ioka did make effort to conceal the tattoo, a rather large tattoo on his left arm and left side, though those efforts appear to have failed and his tattoos were fully on show during the fight, which drew a very large audience figure and some complaints.
It was reported that Ioka had used foundation to cover the offending tattoo, and that he had been instructed the day before to hide it and follow the rules. It's also been reported that in the in the changing room before the bout, when he had his gloves checked, the tattoo was hidden, though by the time he was in the ring the tattoo was visible. A JBC official is quoted in some of the Japanese press as stating "Maybe the paint was lighter than before. I wondered if he was already sweating at the up stage or before the start of the game, but when the game started, it became clearer and clearer. The tattoo was visible,"
After the bout JBC officials were questioned about it and as a result a meeting will take place to discuss possible punishments for Ioka at an ethics committee meeting. There they could do one of 6 things, ranging from a Strict Caution right through to cancelling his license. Though if we're being honest we suspect it'll be a relatively light punishment. In fact if anything we suspect the ethics committee to give him a punishment similar to the one recently given to Kenshiro Teraji for his drunken misbehaviour out of the ring.
Although Ioka is a big name, it's been made clear he hasn't been given special permission with the JBC Secretary General, Tsuyoshi Yasukochi, has been quoted in the Japanese press as saying "I have never given special permission because he is him. The rule violation is clear and we are currently considering how to deal with it."
Interestingly a number of Japanese sites are beginning to question the rule, asking whether it's an outdated rule or unfair on local fighters, as it doesn't apply to visiting fighters. The rule is due to the links to organised crime members in Japan, and specifically things like the Yakuza. Historically fighters like Tatsuki Kawasaki, who came from a criminal background, had to remove his tattoos.
In recent years tattoos have become more of a fashion statement globally, but the rule is still in effect and is one that is still rooted in Japanese culture. Though as we move forward Japanese culture is probably going to join the rest of the world and begin to disassociate body art with the criminal underworld in the coming years.
Earlier today the Japanese Boxing Commission (JBC) Japan Professional Boxing Association (JPBA) held their latest meeting to try and keep on top of the Covid19 situation in boxing.
Since boxing returned to Japan the chief seconds has had to have a Covid19 test, though a new change that will be brought in next year will see both sub-seconds also needing to under-go testing, with either a PCR test or anti-gen tests being done . These are expected to be taken at the time of the weigh in, or the day before.
An even bigger change is that a promoter will need to get medical institutions to agree to work with them to be able to hold an event. Due to the virus affecting a growing number of people, and hospital beds, and medical resources running low, promoters have been struggling to get assistance of medical personnel and ambulances. Going forward if a promoter can't get the medical backing needed the show will have to be cancelled.
These rules will both come into play in early 2021.
The meeting also saw those speak about the Supreme Court in Japan ruling that they would be re-hearing the case against Iwao Hakamada,. The 84 year old, who was sentenced to death in 1968, is a former boxer who has long plead his innocence for the murder of his former boss, his wife and two children. The JBC and JPBA have worked tirelessly over the years to try and get Hakamada a retrial, so that he can be have a chance to prove his innocence after more than 50 years on death row.
The news of Hakamada's retrial has seen international attention with news sites around the world reporting the news, which saw Hakamada's lawyer, Yoshiyuki Todate, share his relief at the ruling on his blog, posting:
"The fact that a path for the resumption of a retrial was not cut off is very welcome. My hands are still shaking after hearing this. I'm really, really glad."
Earlier today it was announced that Japanese fighter Ryan Joshua Yamamoto (4-3, 1) [山本ライアン ジュシュア] had been given a 1 year suspension after missing weight for his East Japan Rookie of the Year final.
The fighter came in 300g's (about 0.6lbs) over the limit, causing the cancellation of his Lightweight bout with Hiromasa Urakawa (6-1, 4) [浦川 大将].
The JBC have given him this punishment and explained that missing weight was "an act that seriously damages the authority and credibility of boxing as a competition". It seems particularly damaging as it was the Rookie of the Year, and had followed a previous telling off for Yamamoto earlier in the year.
Notably Yamamoto isn't the only man being punished here but so too is his manager, Hirotsugu Yamamoto, who Sports Hochi state has been "dismissed".
This is sadly the latest in a long line of issues at the Watanabe Gym, who have had shows cancelled this year, and have seen their chairman, Hitoshi Watanabe, given a large fine for breaking Covid19 rules. The long established gym has, in recent months, looked somewhat lost, despite recent in ring success for Masataka Taniguchi (13-3, 8) [谷口将隆].
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