In many countries crowds haven't returned to boxing, and shows are held in what are essentially empty arenas. In Japan however media and fans have been allowed back, in limited numbers, for several weeks. They have, however, had rules imposed on them in regards to masks and social distancing.
As well as fans rules have also extended to others involved in the events, such as the teams of the fighters, officials, and ring card girls.
We have had several rule breakers, some of which have faced severe punishment. One notable example of that was Hitoshi Watanabe, the chairman of the Watanabe Gym, who was fined ¥500,000 (JPY) this week. Sadly it appears that rules are being broken more and more often.
In a meeting earlier today in Japan the authorities spoke about several incidents that will need to be looked at relating to a show earlier this week.
The incidents includes masks being removed for someone to yell, a someone other than a chief second entering the ring to, and, most oddly, a ring card girl who was seen in a drunken and disorderly state, with signs of alcohol being drank in the waiting areas.
Although no punishments have been handed out, yet, it seems they may be punished in the near future.
At the end of December Japanese fans get a treat with an incredible card feature a staggering 6 title bouts!
Today there was a small competition to get on that card, with 10 girls each trying to book their place on the show as one of the ring card girls.
Prior to today there was a screening process to a much bigger entry pool down to 10. Those 10 finalists were then whittled down to two by a panel of judges at today's event.
The event today saw the 10 posing in swimsuits for the judges, which included former world champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-4-2, 12) [田口良一] and current female world champion Miyo Yoshida (13-1) [吉田 実代], who will feature on the card herself in a world title defense.
The two winners, who are both said to be boxing fans, will not only do the ring cards, but will also feature in a number of the build up events including the signing ceremony, the face and the weigh in.
Whilst the use of ring card girls have had a mixed response in the west in recent years, with some promoters doing away with them and some feminist groups complaining, events to select ring card girls do happen somewhat regularly in Japan. They usually aren't as high profile as they were for this particular show, but there isn't the same calls to ban ring girls are there are in the west.
The girls will get a huge chance to boost their modelling careers here with them appearing on a show that features Kosei Tanaka (14-0, 8) [田中恒成] and Kazuto Ioka (24-2, 14) [井岡一翔], as well as Yoshida, defending world titles and talented youngster Ginjiro Shigeoka (4-0, 3) [重岡銀次朗] also on the card.
(Images courtesy of Boxmob.jp)
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