By Marcus Bellinger (@marcusknockout)
The 2019 Asian Youth Championships took place in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar, with 10 male and 10 female gold medalists being crowned. 11 nations came away with a medal and the standings were as follows:
Kazakhstan claimed an extraordinary 15 medals with Uzbekistan just behind them with 14, India with 12, Thailand, Mongolia and China 8, Japan and South Korea with 4, Taiwan and Kyrgyzstan 3 and Iraq with a single medal
Kazakhstan had a Championships to remember with their men winning 6 golds and bantamweight Biybars Zheksen was named male boxer of the tournament. At flyweight in arguably the fight of the tournament, Makhmud Sabyrkhan prevailed over Thailand’s Sukthet Sarawut in a clash of Asian Youth champions. Make no mistake both these young men have a bright future ahead of them. Sagyndyk Togambay added his 2nd Asian Youth crown, proving far too strong for everyone in the heavyweight category whilst fellow Kazak Amanat Sabyrgali was victorious at super heavyweight.
Amateur boxing is full of sets of siblings/twins at the moment but it’s hard to rival the Tsutsumi brothers who have garnered much success over the last few years. Hayato won world Youth honours in 2015, 2 Asian Youth titles and the senior Japanese crown and fitness providing he should appear in Tokyo and is without doubt a future superstar. Ryonosuke is an Asian Youth Bronze medallist and reached the last 8 at last year’s World Youths however, Mongolia was all about Reito who was aiming to replicate his gold from the 2017 Asian Junior Championships. Replicate he did as the 17-year-old stormed to top the podium at lightweight. In the weight above, Reito Takahashi came away with an excellent Bronze and 2019 has been a terrific year for the 18-year-old after defeating Asian Junior champion Sora Tanaka twice to earn his spot in Ulaanbaatar.
The light flyweight division has proved a fruitful one for India in recent times and Selay Soy continued the tradition, picking up a silver medal and the 18-year-old will be aiming to follow in the footsteps of Amit Panghal. Ankit Narwal also won silver at lightweight and there were really good bronze medals for Satender Singh and Aman at heavyweight and super heavyweight respectively.
Uzbekistan’s 2 golds came from Sukhrobjon Kayimov and Shokhjakhon Abdullaev. Kayimov prevailed at middleweight whilst Abdulllaev became light heavyweight champion and upset touted Kazak Yerassyl Zhakpekov in the semi-finals.
Finally from the men’s bracket Nuradin Rustambek Uulu created history in becoming the first boxer from Kyrgyzstan to win an Asian Youth title as he claimed welterweight gold and hopefully this will be a real boost for boxing in the developing nation.
India continue to strengthen their case as the number one women’s boxing nation, collecting a phenomenal 5 gold and 3 bronze medals. Poonam and Vinka dominated the bantamweight and light welterweight divisions respectively, Naorem Babyrojisana Chanu was victorious at flyweight whilst Sanamacha Chanu and Sushma proved to be the best in the middleweight and light heavyweight categories. Coupled with the outstanding medal tally at the recently concluded Asian Junior Championships, the future for women’s boxing in India is incredibly bright.
The Thai professional scene maybe in somewhat of a slumber right now but the country has some genuine quality young talent in the amateur ranks and the females proved it, scalping 3 golds including welterweight Manikon Baison who also took home the prize of best women’s boxer. Panpatchara Somnuek backed up her Youth Olympic triumph by grabbing featherweight gold and she is one of the most exciting female boxers coming through and lightweight Porntip Buapa successfully defended her Asian Youth crown.
Hikaru Shinohara doesn’t turn 17 until next month but the Japanese youngster pulled off a stunning achievement to claim light flyweight gold in Mongolia. She defeated excellent opposition on the way including top Thai Nillada Meekoon and Shinahara is a top prospect for the land of the rising sun going forward.
Finally in the heavyweight division, Ko Yuan Chien made history, becoming the first boxer to win a gold at the Asian Youth Championships from Taiwan.
By Marcus Bellinger (@marcusknockout)
In the last part of this mini-series we take a look at 5 more notable amateurs from the Asian continent who have achieved success for their respective nations.
Erdenbaat Tsendbaatar, Mongolia, bantamweight (56kg).
For a country with a population of around just 3 million, Mongolia regularly more than holds its own at major tournaments and produces excellent fighters who fight with pride, skill and determination. The country’s young boxing star is undoubtedly Tsendbaatar who enjoyed a golden 2018, triumphing at the Asian Games in Indonesia. Now campaigning at lightweight, Tsendbaatar reached the last 8 of the Rio Olympics, going out to eventual silver medallist Shakur Stevenson down at bantamweight.
The 21-year-old has ruled the roost at home, claiming 4 national titles and also a Bronze at the 2014 Asian Youth Championships. Tsendbaatar will be one of the favourites for the upcoming Asian Championships in Thailand and if boxing does take place at the Tokyo Olympics then he’s more than in the frame for a medal. You can view Tsendbaatar’s winning effort at the 2018 Asian Games below.
Chinzorig Battarsukh, Mongolia, light welterweight (64kg).
Battarsukh possesses copious amounts of experience but has been a bit of a nearly man and has lost a number of very close decisions. The 27-year-old is a 5-time national champion and after reaching the quarter-finals of the 2014 Asian Games, he managed to reach the podium 4 years later taking Silver.
Battarsukh grabbed silver at the 2017 Asian Championships in Tashkent but was highly unlucky to lose to home man Ikboljon Kholdarov in the final and later on that year he narrowly missed out on a world championship medal, losing in the last 8. Battarsukh is a tough out for anyone in his division apart from probably the formidable Cuban Andy Cruz and with a little bit of luck an Olympic medal isn’t out of the question. Battarsukh’s contest in the 2018 Asian Games final can be seen below
Carlo Paalam, Philippines, light flyweight (49kg).
Despite the limited resources at their disposal the Philippines isn’t lacking in talented pugilists with Paalam being one of a number of gifted Pinoys in the amateur ranks. A successful stint at youth level saw him take Bronze at both the Asian and world Championships in 2016. He was on the wrong end of an awful hometown decision in the quarter-finals at the 2017 South East Asian Games in Malaysia but bounced back to take Bronze at the 2018 Asian Games, losing to gold medallist Amit in the semi-final.
Paalam is still young therefore, there is plenty of room for growth and he is defitely capable of achieving success at future events. Some footage of Paalam sparring can be viewed below.
Christian Pitt Laurente, Philippines (56kg).
Laurente is yet to make his senior debut at a major tournament but the future looks bright for him judging by his performances at youth level. His first success came at the South East Asian Youth Games in 2017 as he took lightweight Bronze, being defeated by top operator Atichai Phoemsap. A move down to bantamweight saw him win silver followed by Bronze and the Asian and world Youth Championships respectively with elite Uzbek Abdumalik Khalokov victorious over him on both occasions. Laurente is clearly one for the future and you can watch him in action versus Khalokov
Kim Ink-Yu, South Korea, flyweight (52kg).
Korean boxing both sides of the border has been in the doldrums for well over a decade but there have been small signs of recovery especially in the amateur ranks in recent times. The most consistent performer has been South Korea’s Kim Ink-yu who came away from the 2017 world Championships with Bronze after winning silver at the Asian equivalent earlier on in the year. The world Bronze bettered his quarter-final appearance in the previous edition and he is capable of being in the mix for medals in future major competitions. Below is a bout involving Kim up against Uzbekistan’s Jasurbek Latipov.
By Marcus Bellinger (@marcusknockout)
Japanese professional boxing is in a great place right now when some truly elite fighters and a plethora of outstanding youngsters racing through the ranks at a lightning pace. The country is hosting the 2020 Olympics but boxing’s place is yet to be confirmed due to a dispute between governing body AIBA and the IOC.
Japan has never been a traditional powerhouse in amateur boxing but has had plenty of success at the youth and junior levels. Here are a small selection of boxers from the land of the rising sun who could either feature in Tokyo, or more likely in the professional ranks in the years to come.
Hayato Tsutsumi, bantamweight, (56kg).
The next potential superstar from Japan, Tsutsumi ruled the roost at the youth level and has made a solid start in the elite level. He’s had plenty of success domestically winning various tournaments. 2016 was a banner year as Tsutsumi claimed flyweight golds at the Asian and World Youth Championships before repeating the success up at bantamweight at the 2017 Asian Youth Championships.
His move to the senior ranks saw him win the national title in 2017 and reach the last 4 in 2018 but elimination in the first contest of the 2018 Asian Games will have been a disappointment but should be seen as a valuable learning experience. If boxing doesn’t take place in Tokyo, expect promoters to be queueing round the block to sign up Tsutsumi. You can view the final of the 2017 national Championships involving Tsutsumi below.
(Ed's note - The fight below is against highly regarded Teiken prospect Mikito Nakano, now 2-0 (2) in the professional ranks)
Sora Tanaka, light welterweight, (64kg).
Blessed with an exciting style and punching power, Tanaka won gold at the Asian Junior Championships in 2017. After winning Bronze at the 2018 Asian Youth Championships, Tanaka didn’t fare as well at the world Youth’s, going out in his first bout. An excellent performer at home, the teenager is definitely one for the future whether that’s as an amateur or a professional. Tanaka’s bout from the 2018 World Youth Championships can be seen below
Ryutaro Nakagaki, flyweight, (52kg).
Nakagaki’s first success away from home came in 2015 when he topped the podium at the Asian Junior Championships. His best result to date saw him take Asian Youth gold in 2017 as he prevailed over top notch Uzbek Abdumalik Khalokov in the final. Nakagaki’s 2 outings at the Japanese nationals saw him reach the last 4 in 2017 and the last 8 in 2018 and there is plenty to build on for the gifted youngster. You can take a look at a bout from 2015 involving Nakagaki below.
Sho Usami, welterweight, (69kg).
2018 saw Usami reach the quarter-finals of the Asian Youth Championships before going one better at the World Youth Championships in Hungary, coming away with a credible Bronze medal. A shot at the national crown last year saw him lose in his opening bout but again he should only improve given the right coaching and appearances at international tournaments. You can watch Usami’s semi-final contest at the World Youth Championships below
Finally it’s not just Hayato who has the boxing bug in the family as younger brothers Ryonosuke and Reito Tsutsumi have shown plenty of promise. Ryonosuke reached the last 8 at the 2018 World Youth Championships after grabbing Bronze at the Asian Youth Championships, losing out on both occasions to the outstanding Atichai Phoemsap. Reito’s most notable triumph so far saw him earn lightweight gold at the 2017 Asian Junior Championships. Footage of both Tsutsumi’s in action can be viewed below.
By Marcus Bellinger (@marcusknockout)
Currently professional boxing is in a pretty solid state in Thailand with 3 world champions and some decent contenders in the mix around world level. The amateur scene in the country could be on the verge of a really sustained period of success with the youth and junior programmes put in place in 2013 paying dividends. The nation has also hosted many significant events in the last couple of years and it will be the destination for the elite Asian men’s and women’s Championships this April.
Here are a selection of the best current Thai amateurs and some future stars who will be aiming to move up to the senior level in the upcoming years.
Chatchai Butdee, bantamweight (56kg)
A veteran of over a decades experience at the top level, Chatchai has been there, seen it and done it, competing at every major tournament and is probably the most well-known Thai amateur boxer. He was voted the top sportsman in his homeland in 2013 where he won South East Asian gold and a world championship bronze.
Further gold at the South East Asian Games in 2011 and silver in 2009 coupled with top spot at the Asian Championships in 2015 prove Chatchai’s quality and ability to compete with the best around. At 33 and with a very cagy awkward style, a transition to the professional ranks is unlikely but expect Chatchai to be a tough out for anyone at bantamweight in future competitions. Some footage of Chatchai in a bout versus Misha Aloian can be seen below:
Sailom Ardee, welterweight (69kg)
Another man with copious amounts of experience at the top level Sailom is a regular for Thailand at all the major tournaments and has had his fair share of success. His most recent medal came at the 2018 Asian Games where he took bronze.
The South East Asian Games has proved fruitful for Sailom with the 32-year-old claiming gold twice and 3 bronze medals. His other most notable achievement came in 2013 where he picked up silver at the Asian Championships. Given his age a run in professional boxing doesn’t seem likely but similar to Chatchai, expect Sailom to be in and around the medals in future events. You can view a contest between Sailom and Cuba’s Lazaro Alvarez below:
Wuttichai Masuk, light welterweight (64kg)
Wuttichai is a highly decorated amateur winning a medal at every major event apart from the Olympics. 2015 was a great one for Wuttichai, with gold at the Asian Championships followed by a bronze at the world championships.
The 29-year-old has also captured gold at the 2009 Asian Championships, 3 golds and a bronze at the South East Asian Games and Asian Games gold and bronze twice along with a handful of bouts in the WSB. Presuming there is boxing at the Tokyo Olympics, Wuttichai is arguably Thailand’s best hope for a medal but a crack at the professional game could be a root to take if the AIBA IOC dispute can’t be resolved and he would be an interesting addition in the pro scene at home. Wuttichai’s bout in the final of the 2015 South East Asian Games can be viewed below:
Atichai Phoemsap, lightweight (60kg)
A young man with elite potential Atichai’s first breakthrough came at the 2017 South East Asian Youth Games where he topped the podium. The Korat born teenager then had what can only be described as a phenomenal 2018, winning Asian, world and Olympic Youth golds cementing his place as one of the hottest future talents in amateur boxing. At just 17 Atichai really does have the world at his feet but it’s unclear when the step up to senior level will come but the 2024 Olympics seems a very realistic aim. Atichai’s winning effort over home man Adrian Orban in the world Youth Championships final can be seen
Thitisan Panmod, light flyweight (49kg)
Not far behind teammate Atichai, Thitisan’s first success also came at the South East Asian Youth Games in 2017 where he claimed gold. After Bronze at the Asian Youth Championships in 2017 followed by silver in 2018, Thitisan finally went one better at the world Youth Championships in Hungary in the same year. Again the move up to the elite level should come in time with the teenage talent showing he has all the tools to succeed. You can watch Thitisan’s fight from the final of the 2018 world Youth Championships
Sukthet Sarawut, flyweight (52kg)
Finally, the last of a trio of top young Thai talent Sukthet won silver at the Asian Junior Championships back in 2017. After victory at home in the Asian Youth Championships, a medal at the world’s was more than a realistic aim but the teenager was drawn against top Uzbek Samandar Kholmurudov in the early stages. Having defeated him in the final of the Asian Championships Sukthet would have been confident but it was Kholmurudov who got the better of it on this occasion leaving the Thai empty handed. Sukthet did however go onto claim silver at the Youth Olympics in Argentina and the future looks bright for him if he continues to develop his skills and experience. You can take a look at a clash from the world Youth Championships involving Sukthet
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features