Earlier today we were informed that former WBC Super Bantamweight champion Royal Kobayashi (35-8, 27) [ロイヤル小林] had passed away at the age of 71, following a battle with cancer.
The former fighter from Kumamoto was one of the more memorable names of the Japanese boxing scene in the 1970's and 1980's and a success in both the professional ranks and the amateur games, and even passed on his knowledge after retiring and becoming a trainer.
Born Kazuo Kobayashi in Kumamoto in October 1949 the fighter would make a mark at the 1972 Olympic, reaching the last 8 before losing to Hungarian András Botos. That was the highlight of an amateur career which had also seen him win the All Japan Championship that same year.
Due to his amateur pedigree Kobayashi was allowed to be fast tracked in the professional ranks, and was one of the few Japanese fighters to debut in an 8 round bout. Less than 3 years after his professional debut he got his first world title fight losing in 5 rounds to Nicaraguan legend Alexis Arguello, the then WBA Featherweight champion. Just a year later however he would become the a world champion in his second attempt, beating Rigoberto Riasco in 8 rounds to claim the WBC Super Bantamweight title.
Sadly Kobayashi's reign was incredibly short, last less than 7 weeks, with the fighter losing the belt in his first defense to Dong Kyun Yum in Seoul.
Following his short title reign he would remain in the mix for the titles, but come up short to Wilfredo Gomez in 1978 and Eusebio Pedroza in 1979, though did win the OPBF Featherweight title between those losses. Kobayashi would defend OPBF Featherweight title 7 times before losing the belt in 1981 in an opening round loss to Jung-Han Hwang, following which he would retire from in ring competition.
During his career be set several achievements for Japanese boxing, becoming the first Japanese Olympian to win a world title and the first university graduate from Japan to win a world title. Due to his power he was dubbed the "KO Maker".
Following his retirement he worked at a number of gyms as a trainer, including the Yokohama Hikari Gym.
Sadly the former boxing icon had been suffering from esophageal cancer and was announced dead in hospital on November 17th.
We would like to send our thoughts to the Kobayashi family.
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