Every year boxing journalists talk about the latest entrants to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, an event that has become less international as the years have gone on and become sadly rather American centric. Whilst not everyone in the sport can be included there are a lot of names that should be in one of the sections that aren't there, for whatever reasons. Today the team at Asian boxing have been tasked with looking at some of those names and making a case for some Asian boxing people who should be in the Hall of Fame.
Unlike many of these types of articles however we weren't just focusing on boxers. After all the hall of fame looks at things like Participants and Observers, and this left the team with a lot of interesting possibilities ranging from promoters to artists, from significant industry insiders to photographers.
With that in mind let see who the guys came up with to answer the question:
"Who... belongs in the hall of fame?"
Lee - "I have two very different choices, and both really do belong in the hall of fame for very different reasons.
My first nomination is Filipino Manuel Nieto, who was one of key people involved in the development of the OPBF, serving as it's first president. He wasn't the only man involved at the start of the formation of the then OBF (Oriental Boxing Federation), his presidency of the organisation is part of the reason we are still talking about the OPBF more than 60 years on. The body is well respected, not something we can typically say for boxing organisations, and is still going strong. That was, in part, to Nieto's great work.
My second nomination is "Mama Shim", or Young-ja Shim. Shim is an often forgotten name in global boxing but was one of the most important female promoters in the sport and one of the most remarkable Korean promoters. She was the star Korean promoter of the 1980's and 1990's and promoted the likes of Kyung Yun Lee, Yong Kang Kim, Sung Kil Moon and Bong Jon Kim. Her inclusion in the non-participant category would be a fitting place for her. Sadly she died in 2020 but this would be a great way to honour her life, death and career in the sport.
Whilst writing this I also came up with a third suggestion that I would like to make, even if he wasn't Asian. And that is Sidney Jackson. Jackson was an American boxer originally, but would become better known as the first great trainer in Uzbekistan, where he basically put down the foundations of the Uzbek amateur system which is now one of the best in the world. There are people in the Hall of Fame that did a lot for boxing than Sidney Jackson who's name is rarely mentioned outside of amateur boxing fans, and that is a massive shame. What Jackson did helped create a boxing powerhouse, and we really do not recognise his achievements anywhere near enough."
Taka - "I have 3 names I want to nominate.
Firstly, former boxer Joichiro Tatsuyoshi. I would put him in for the same type of reasons as Arturo Gatti and even Barry McGuigan. Tatsuyoshi isn't an all time great boxer. There is no denying he was a limited boxer, with massive technical issues and a career that didn't reach the heights in the ring that many need to become a Hall of Famer. What he did however was fame. He was a star among stars, he helped cause a boxing boom in Japan and he was a star. A true star. A man who the media and fans connected with and a man who inspired so many fighters afterwards. Yes Tatsuyoshi doesn't belong there on talent, but what he did for the sport was huge. He is fame.
Given that Sylvester Stallone is in the Hall of fame as an Observer I want to nominate two other Observers. The first of those is Jyoji Morikawa, who has had a massive, massive impact on boxing due to his fictional work, as well as his continued involvement in the sport as a promoter. Whilst I don't think every boxing fan will recognise Morikawa's name they will recognise his work, as he is the man behind Hajime No Ippo and that brilliant Ring Magazine cover featuring Naoya Inoue. Morikawa's work has inspired so many Japanese youngsters to take up the sport, and has also seen his work become an international success. If Stallone is in then Morikawa deserves to be knocking on the door.
My second Observer nomination is a bit of a gimmie, and that's photographer. Naoki Fukuda. If we're being honest when we think of boxing photographers there's only a handful of names that we ever think about, and Fukuda is always among those names. His work has regularly been award winning and his ability to take a picture at the right time has seen him become the sports star photographer. He is a special man behind the camera and someone who deserves his place in Canastota one day. As I said he's a gimmie, and if he doesn't get in then serious questions need to be asked!"
Scott - "I'm being super selfish here with 4 names I want to nominate but they include only one is a fighter and the the 3 are connected to each other.
The one fighter is Masako Takatsuki, who I will get blank looks at mentioning. I nominate her for the Women's Trailblazer category, which is really lacking in terms of fighters. She was the first Japanese professional female fighter and was a rather notable curiosity in an era before female boxing was even recognised in Japan. Her boxrec record shows her as having gone 1-1 but her complete record is reported as being 8-2-1 (3). Due to the JBC not recognising female boxing at the time, and they didn't until the 21st century, many of her bouts were fought either overseas or under the auspices of the All Japan Women's Martial Arts Federation, who crowned her the first All Japan female boxing champion. To be the first Japanese female boxer is, to me, a trailblazer, especially given how female boxing in Japan would become in the 00's and the 2010's, some 30 years after Takatsuki's final bout.
The other 3 I want to mention are Hiroyasu Kikuchi, Munehide Tanabe and Yachiyo Manabe, who between them are responsible for much of the Japanese boxing as we know it now.
Hiroyasu Kikuchi was the clerical powerhouse of the early JBC, serving as the first Executive Director, and was responsible for the collection of a lot of data used in boxing. Such as health records, contracts and records. He was the administrator that allowed others to work around him and it was due to his great work that things went, relatively, smoothly during the country's new era of professional boxing. He was also a brilliant mediator and a fantastic negotiator. His impact in boxing is so overlooked. He worked not just for the JBC but also the WBA and WBC during his career in the sport and was also an often overlooked factor in the rise of Yoshio Shirai.
Although not known outside of Asia, Munehide Tanabe and Yachiyo Manabe are really important figures in Japanese boxing, and are brothers-in-laws who helped establish Japanese boxing.
Born in 1881 Munehide Tanabe was a business man who later became one of the key figures in Japanese boxing. He would be one of the key early figures in the Korakuen Stadium Company, now known as the Tokyo Dome, and would go on to be the first commissioner of the JBC (holding the role from 1952 to 1957), establishing the organisation with Akira Honda. After that he helped bring Japan in line with the NBA (National Boxing Association, now the WBA), and later helped develop the Oriental Boxing Federation, which later became the OPBF. During his roles he was a major player in establishing the creation of the Korakuen Hall, the Holy Land of Japanese boxing. Interestingly he is inducted in the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, for the effects he had on baseball in the country, which saw him play a role in creating the Korakuen Eagles. His role in professional sport in Japan is incredibly over-looked and deserves more than a paragraph here.
Sadly Munehide Tanabe passed away in 1957 and his role of JBC commissioner ended up being passed on to his brother-in-law, Yachiyo Manabe. Manabe, a lawyer and businessman himself, continued the excellent work of Tanabe and served as the JBC's commissioner from 1957 to 1975. Not only did he head the JBC for almost 20 years but he also played a major role in the development of the OBF (which he later served as a chairman for), helped further build the Korakuen Group and guided Japanese boxing into becoming a powerhouse of the sport. He was later named honorary chairman of the WBA for life due to his huge, and amazingly overlooked, impact on the sport. He was also inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame and, along Tanabe, deserves a place in the Boxing Hall of fame for the work he did in helping set up the JBC. Outside of boxing he played massive role in baseball, crafting a relationship with the Yomiuri Giants, and also began boxing’s relationship with NTV, which continues to this very day!
In many ways Tanabe, Manabe and Kikuchi were the founding fathers of modern day Japanese boxing, along with Akira Honda."
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces