Earlier today it was announced that 75 year old former world champion Susumu Hanagata would be stepping down as the president of the East Japan Boxing Association at the end of his first team, rather than running for a second term, revealing that his age was a concern and that he wanted to leave the role to a younger man.
Interestingly he also named his preferred successor to the role as fellow former world champion Shoji "Celes" Kobayashi, the current head of the Celes Kobayashi Boxing gym and a very popular figure within Japanese boxing circles.
At the time of writing Kobayashi is the only man in the running for the role, though other could join him up to the deadline of February 17th. If no one else is put forward he will be confirmed as the new chairman on February 25th. If however someone does run against him, there will be a vote by the 125 members of the Association, to decide who takes over from Hanagata.
From what we understand Kobayashi is likely to run unopposed.
Earlier this year news broke in regards to a match up between former WBO Flyweight champion Sho Kimura (18-3-2, 11) [木村翔] and former WBO Minimumweight champion Merlito Sabillo (27-7-1, 13). At the time there was a problem for Kimura in regards to his license for the fight, following the closure of the Aoki gym at the start of the year.
This morning it was announced that Kimura is now in possession of a JBC license having inked a temporary deal with the Hanagata gym, for a 1 fight only agreement.
The agreement sees Kimura secure a Japanese licenses through affiliation with the Hanagata for the Kimura bout, something that was needed due to an agreement between Japanese and the Philippines. It will however leave Kimura free to work with a different promoter afterwards. Without a gym affiliation for the bout Kimura wouldn't have been allowed to fight at all on the show.
This is very similar to what the Hanagata gym, lead by Susumu Hanagata [花形進], also did for Kyonosuke Kameda [亀田京之介] and Takeshi Takehara [竹原毅] ahead of the All Japan Rookie of the Year finals late last year, after the Kyoei gym closed.
It seems obvious that Mr Hanagata doesn't want fighters missing out due to the way gyms are running, and it's great to see the Hanagata gym doing things like this.
Longer term it seems unclear what Kimura will be doing in regards to his gym affiliation, but there are going to be options out there, and it wouldn't be a massive surprise to see him linking up with Dangan Aoki, who were seen as the favourite to sign him, later in the year.
On Monday the Kyoei gym's former chairman Keiichiro Kanehira handed in the paperwork needed to suspend the gym's professional boxing activity. That decision saw all the gym's active and licensed fighters being left gym-less and, and essentially through in to doubt the All Japan Rookie of the Year final bouts for Kyonosuke Kameda (5-1-1, 4) [亀田京之介], the cousin of Koki Kameda, and Takeshi Takehara (5-0, 1) [竹原毅].
With the Rookie of the Year finals taking place in less than 2 weeks the fighters were clearly going to either have to find a gym quickly, allowing them to remain licensed fighters, or miss out on a huge opportunity to make a name for themselves, and claim the All Japan Rookie of the Year crown.
Today, thankfully, Kameda and Takehara were given solace of sorts as both men jointed the Hanagata Gym on a temporary basis.
The deal for both men will be a 1-fight deal, with discussions to be had after the Rookie of the Year finals as to where their future lies. It seems as if the Hanagata gym are open to extending the deal, but will only offer that olive branch after the Rookie of the Year is completed.
As well as the two fighters 3 trainers have also transferred to the Hanagata gym.
At the moment the status of the gym's other fighters, including former world champion Tomoki Kameda (36-3, 20) [亀田和毅], have yet to be decided.
In regards to Tomoki Kameda it is worth noting that he is free to fight overseas until his Japanese license situation is sorted out, so he is less likely to be directly affected than the smaller names that were at Kyoei and wouldn't be likely to fight overseas.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
In February we reported that Susumu Hanagata [花形進] had become the head of the East Japan Boxing Association. He started his new job yesterday, not just as the East Japan head, but also as the chairman of the Japan Pro Boxing Assocation (JPBA). Yesterday he chaired his first JPBA session with the directors of the board and laid down his team and his plans.
Mr Hanagata has pledged to strengthen the social activity and has created a new committee to advance that plan, he has also hired a number of new people to help him run Japanese boxing, including the heads of the Yokohama Hikari Gym and RK Kamata.
In other changes they will begin looking at allowing martial artists from other sports to compete more freely in boxing, which would open the door to a potential boxing-kick boxing career for Tenshin Nasukawa. This hasn't been allowed in the past, but would be a massive change if enacted.
Also TV commentators to enter the ring, to see in ring interviews like we see in the US and UK.
Neither of those change have been ratified but seem to be his key points going forward.
Last week we reported that Susumu Hanagata [花形進] would be the next President of the East Japan Boxing Association, taking the reigns from Hitoshi Watanabe, with Nikkan Sports being the one to first break the news. Now that story has been confirmed, with Hanagata officially accepting the role, which he will take on from April 1st.
Technically he has to wait until February 28th to be sworn in, but it's a foregone issue and he will lead for 3 years. Apparently he was the only candidate, which likely explains the break between Nikkan Sports reporting the news last week and today's official confirmation.
Mr Hanagata is a former WBC Flyweight champion, who currently manages the Hanagata gym, which he set up. As a gym owner he has created a couple of world champions as well as setting up the Kanagawa Kenjyo, which is a group of gyms in Kanagawa who work together.
As a fighter Hanagata made his professional debut in 1963 and had an active career that ended in 1976. During that time he ran up an impressive record of 41-16-8 (8), scoring notable wins over the likes of Efren Torres, Masao Oba and Chartchai Chionoi. He isn't a legendary name among Western fans but is a key player in the Japanese boxing scene, and is very popular among those in the Kanagawa boxing scene.
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