Every so often we, as boxing fans, stumble on something new, something we didn't know about and something that just happens to peak our interest. It could be that we find out a fighter is from our home town, it could be a bout we suddenly find on youtube or it could be something very different.
For us the latest “find” is North Korean fighter Choi Chul Su, who many won't remember at all, despite Choi having several notable places in history and having success as both and amateur and a professional in the 1990's. In fact even now, more than 20 years after his defining achievement, he is still regarded as one of, if not the, best fighter from his homeland.
Choi made his first real mark on the sport in November 1991 when he claimed Silver at the World Amateur Championships in the Flyweight division, losing in the final to Hungarian Istvan Kovacs, a future world champion in the professional ranks.
Although Choi “only” won Silver at the world's he was regarded as one of the threats for the 1992 Olympics and it turned out that fighters were right to worry about him as he went on to win 5 bouts to claim the Gold medal at Flyweight. Not only did he claim the Gold but he did so in impressive fashion beating Paul Ingle in his second bout, Robbie Peden in the quarter-final, avenging the loss to Kovacs in the semi-final and then beating Cuban Raul Gonzalez in the final. Three of those four men went on to win titles in the professional ranks whilst Gonzalez continued to be a top amateur over the next few years.
The Gold medal was only the second North Korea had ever won in the boxing ring at the Olympics, following 1976 Bantamweight winner Gu Yong-Ju, who beat British fight Pat Cowdell and Charles Mooney in his Olympic exploits.
Sadly it seems that Choi didn't get the chance to build on his win and instead vanished off the boxing map. Some suggest he had relocated to China but it seems that he was actually forced to return to North Korea, where he continued training.
In August 1998, 28 months after his debut bout, Choi resurfaced fighting in Wenzhou, China against Eak Donjadee of Thailand. Despite the long lay off Choi stopped his foe in the 3rd round to claim the PABA “interim” Featherweight title. A title he would defend 53 weeks later, against experienced Filipino Samuel Duran, who was stopped in just the 2nd round in Shenyang. Duran, then fighting for the 79th time, had been the OPBF Featherweight champion just over 2 years earlier, and had almost regained the title in 1998.
Interestingly the 1999 featuring Choi's third bout featured fighters from across Asia including Mongolian pair Choi Tseveenpurev and Erdene Chuluun, who would fight for a world title just 14 months later.
Sadly Choi was never seen in a professional ring again. He was reported to have said that he was training for a big fight, but that fight never came and he retired aged 31.
Details of his post-retirement life are scarce though in July 2001 he was working at a boxing coach in Pyongyang. Sadly nothing much appears to have been reported about his life following his retirement,though at one point he does appear to have been linked with another North Korean boxer, Hyun Mi Choi, sadly though the information regarding their connection is unclear.
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