One of the most exciting aspects of Japanese boxing right now is the rise of the youngsters, which has helped to put Japanese boxing in to a Golden Age of sorts. Interestingly within that young group of Japanese fighters is a sub-group, and that's the rise of young Okinawan boxers. This has been lead by the brilliant Daigo Higa but also features the likes of Shuma Nakazato, Owan Ryuto and Shawn Oda.
This past week we managed to catch up with one of those fighters, 19 year old Lightweight prospect Shawn Oda (6-0, 6), who took time out of his schedule to answer a few of our questions.
Shawn came to the attention of many fight fans in Japan in 2016, when he claimed the Rookie of the Year crown at Lightweight, and despite only fighting once in 2017 he looks set for a big 2018.
Asian Boxing-Firstly can we start with asking how did you get in to boxing, or what got you into the sport?
Shawn Oda-How I got into the sport was this one man that mom knew that happened to be Uehara Yasutsune brother Uehara Shouei. He told my mom since I was small that I should box and after trying lots of sports I tried boxing in the 5th grade and loved it!
AB-Although we had the pleasure of watching you winning the 2016 Rookie of the Year some fans reading this may not have seen you. Could you describe your style and in ring mentality for them?
SO-I would say a boxer fighter is the best way to describe my style. I go into the ring thinking of all the work I did for the fight knowing I am going to win. I know I only have 6 fights so far but you gotta have this type of mentality to fight!
AB-What are you dreams and goals in boxing? Did you exceed your expectations by winning the Rookie of the Year? Or even the way you did it, stopping all your opponents.
SO-I have not exceeded my expectations by winning the Rookie of the Year, I think this is just the beginning! My goal is to get to the top and get a world title belt but I know it ain’t gonna be easy and I gotta put the work in but I’m up for it! This is my life!
AB-You're one of the few Japanese fighters who speak English, do you see this as an advantage in your career and getting fights in the West, or is that not something that particularly bothers you?
SO-It is good Knowing that it will be easier to communicate with people in the West, but other than that I do not see an advantage because my gym handles all of the managing and setting my fights up.
AB-Is there any idea of when you'll be back in the ring?
SO-I actually have a fight coming up on February 4th! (Ed's note- Shawn will be fighting in the chief support bout of Daigo Higa's bout with Moises Fuentes)
AB-Over the last few years we've seen Okinawa really begin to have a resurgent boxing scene, what's it like to be part of that growth in the region?
SO-I’m happy the name of my home is gaining popularity again from boxing and I’m a part of it!
AB-Staying on the theme of Okinawa, who do you see as your best friends in boxing?
SO-I would say Yoshigai Ukyo, Hiranaka Nobuhiro, and everyone I train with right now in the Shirai•Gushiken Gym. Owan Ryuto, Kimura Yoshimitsu, Yamashita Kenya, Nagahama Riku, and Higa Daigo. (Ed's note – The Shirai Gushiken gym is run by Japanese boxing legend Yoko Gushiken, himself a former Okinawan fighter)
AB-What was it like training with the excellent Daigo Higa?
SO-I am blessed to have that amazing experience and able to train with all these great boxers all the time now!
AB-Who do you look up to as a boxing hero?
SO-I don’t really have a hero but I’ve always liked the way Ioka Kazuto fought since I started boxing.
AB-Outside of boxing I know you enjoy Skateboarding, is there any other notable hobbies or out of the ring interests you spend a lot of time doing?
SO-I spend a lot of time listening to music and skate mostly on my free time when I don’t have a fight coming up.
AB-Finally, is there any sort of message you want to send out to fans?
SO-Imma keep working everyday to reach my goal and get the next, hope to have a fight in the West sometime soon!
AB-Thanks for your time Shawn, it's much appreciated, and the best of luck for your fight in February.
(Image courtesy pof boxmob.jp)
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