On Thursday the International Boxing Hall of Fame announced the next class of inductees to be enshrined into Canastota and amazingly it included two Japanese fighters who have both been included in the revised "Old Timers" category.
Those fighters are former Flyweight champion Masao Oba (35-2-1, 16), who will be inducted post humously, and former Light Flyweight great Yoko Gushiken (25-1, 15).
For those who are unaware of Oba he was one of the best Flyweights of the of the early 1970's. He had won the WBA Flyweight title in October 1970, with a 13th round KO against Berkrerk Chartvanchai and defended it 5 times in a little more than 2 years before tragically dying in a motor accident 22 days after his final bout. At the time of his death he was just 23 and had already notched up wins against the likes of Bernabe Villacampo, Berkrerk Chartvanchai, Betulio Gonzalez, Susumu Hanagata and Chartchai Chionoi. Due to his early death, whilst he was still the world champion, Oba is often referred to as the "Eternal Champion".
As for Gushiken he was one of most exciting Light Flyweight's in history. His career lasted only 7 years though in that time he did more than most fighters do in much longer careers. He won the WBA Light Flyweight title in 1976 and ran up 13 defenses before being beaten in 1981 by Pedro Flores, a man he had narrowly beaten 5 months earlier. Following the loss to Flores Gushiken retired as an active fighter. Although retired Gushiken is still an important man in Japanese boxing and is the head of the Shirai Gushiken Sports gym, the gym that manages fighters including Koki Eto, the current OPBF Flyweight champion.
The two Japanese fighters are joined by Ken Overlin in the old timers category, who like Oba is being inducted posthumously.
Others to be inducted include former Heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe, former Featherweight sensation Naseem Hamed, Lightweight action man Ray Mancini and referee Steve Smoger.
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