Earlier this year we looked at some obscure facts of Japanese boxing, and now we feel is an ideal time to look at some more obscure facts. This time however we'll be focusing on Indonesia, and the Indonesian boxing scene. More specifically picking out 5 historic fighters from Indonesian boxing history.
Unlike the Japanese scene the Indonesian one isn't one that's on fire right now, but the country has played notable role in the sport, developing several world champions over the years, as well as providing a lot of regional journeymen, to pad the records of hopefuls across the region.
1-Thomas Americo creates history in 1981
The little known Thomas Americo is a rather tragic figure in Indonesian boxing, and the boxing history of Timor Leste. Born in 1958, in what was then Portuguese Timor, Thomas Americo would be the first Indonesian world title challenger in history when he challenged Saoul Mamby for the WBC Light Welterweight title in 1981.
Americo had made his professional debut in April 1980, beating Australian veteran Eddie Buttons, over 10 rounds. He followed up his debut win with a KO victory over the then OPBF Light Welterweight champion Sang Mo Koo, in a big upset. That upset went on to destroy plans to have Koo fight in a world title fight, and instead Americo got a shot, taking on Mamby. Sadly Americo lost a majority decision to Mamby and from then on his career never really got going again, with his record falling to 6-6-1 in June 1987. He would then retire before making a 1-off return in 1995, and winning before leaving the sport with a record of 7-6-1 (3)
When Americo challenged Mamby Timor Leste had been annexed by Indonesia, which was done in 1975, and was under Indonesian rule for much of the following 30 years. Sadly Americo would die before Timor Leste got it's independence at the turn of the Millenium.
2-The only Indonesian Triple champion Elly Pical
Whilst Americo was the first Indonesian to fight for a world title the first Indonesian to win a world title was Elly Pical, who actually achieved the feat 3 times! Not only that but is one of the few men to have won the same belt 3 times, being a 3-time IBF Super Flyweight champion.
Pical's first reign came in May 1985, when he landed his powerful left hook on Korean Ju Do Chun in the 8th round. That reign lasted less than a year, as he lost the title the following February to Cesar Polanco. A rematch with Polanco in July 1986 saw Pical stop the Dominican in 3 rounds to become a 2-time champion. Pical was stripped, after losing to WBAchampion Khaosai Galaxy in February 1987, but reclaimed the title in October 1987 to become a 3-time champion in the space of 29 months.
Whilst Pical's first reign was historically huge for Indonesia it's worth noting that his third reign was also historic. It ran for almost 2 years and saw him defend the title in the first ever world title bout in Singapore and become the first Indonesian world champion to travel to the US to defend a title, though he was unsuccessful in that US bout losing to Juan Polo Perez.
Sadly footage of much of Pical's career was destroyed in a fire, meaning that it's unlikely we will ever get a chance to many ofPical's bouts.
3-Early Oriental King Wongso Suseno!
Few fans outside of Indonesia, and few even inside the country, will be aware of Wongso Suseno but in 1975 he etched his name into the records books. Suseno made his debut in May 1975, as a 29 year old, and in just his second bout he defeated Chang Kil Lee of South Korea to claim the OPBF Light Welterweight. This saw Suseno become the first Indonesian fighter to win any sort of recognisable international title.
Suseno's reign was a relatively short one, lasting from his win over Lee in July 1975 to September 1977, and feature only 2 successful defenses. Interestingly Thomas Americo would claim this same OPBF title in 1980, when he stopped Sang Mo Koo.
Sadly after winning his first 4 bouts Suseno's career would fall apart and he would retire in 1982 with a 6-6 (1) record.
4-Age ain't nothin' but a number for the Predator!
We know fighters get old, with the lower weight classes typically ageing quicker than those in the heavier weights. With that in mind it's worth considering the impressive career of Muhammad Rachman (65-13-5, 35) who fought from 1993 to 2016, and almost all of his notable bouts came at Minimumweight.
Rachman's career is notable in many ways. For many hardcore fans the first time he popped on their radar would have been in 2004, when Rachman won the IBF Minimumweight title in his 68th professional bout, at the age of 32. That was pretty impressive by it's self, but he then added 3 defenses before losing the title at the age of 35 to Florante Condes. Rachman would come again at the ripe old age of 39, when he stopped Kwanthai Sithmorseng, in 2011, to become the oldest man to win a Minimumweight title. It was a short reign however and he lost the belt before his 40th birthday.
The longevity of Rachman was however still to give us one more surprise, and he was to have another world title shot in 2015, when he was 43. He would lose to Knockout CP Freshmart in a WBA title fight, but show that even in to his 40's he no push over.
5-Abdi Pohan's successive trio of losses
Few will recall Abdi Pohan, who fought in the late 1980's and through to the mid 1990's though he has what looks to be a rather unique string of fights during the early stages of his career. After winning his first 3 bouts Pohan has his first world title, battling Muangchai Kittikasem for the IBF Light Flyweight title. He lost by unanimous decision to Kittikased then got a shot the WBO Light Flyweight title, losing to Jose in 7 rounds De Jesus. Rather than being pushed the queue he then got a third world title fight, moving to 105lbs to challenger Fahlan Sakkrerrin Sr, losing by decision.
That run of results so Pohan go from 3-0 to 3-3, with all 3 losses coming in world title bouts,
Pohan's career never really bounced back, but he did go 1-1 Ratanachai Sor Vorapin before suffering losses towards the end of his career to future world champions Veeraphol Sahaprom and Yokthai Sithoar. He would end his career 9-8 (2), with a 0-3 record in world title fights and a 1-6 record against world champions.
(Image is of Suseno)
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