One of the many things that boxing has a long history of is "nicknames" and with that in mind we've decided to share some of our favourites in a new series looking at nicknames. To kick this series off we're including some of our favourites and some of the most unique, though as this series goes on we will share some awful ones as well!
Young Kyun Park - "Bulldozer"
Few nicknames will every sum up a fighter as well as "Bulldozer" summed up Korean warrior Yung Kyun Park, the former Featherweight king. Although not one of the more well known Korean fighters he was among the excellent wave of Korean fighters that made their mark on the sport in the 1980's and 1990's, and he was very much a bulldozer in the ring.
Armed with an iron chin, an incredibly work rate and a vicious power Park carved up a very good career in the ring from 1986 to 1995, going 28-3-1 (16). Although his career was short it was intense and he held the WBA Featherweight title from March 1991 to December 1993, in which time he managed to make 8 successful defenses.
If you've never watched a Park fight we desperately advise you watch his bouts with Seiji Asakwa, Koji Matsumoto and the first bout with Eloy Rojas. After that you'll understand why he was dubbed the "Bulldozer"
Naoya Inoue - "Monster"
Another nickname that sums up a fighter incredibly well is "Monster" for current Japanese star Naoya Inoue. The name has been adopted by a few other fighters in recent years, such as Can Xu and Andrew Moloney, but in reality there is only one "Monster" and that's Inoue.
Although an excellent boxer, and one of the best boxer-puncher's in the sport, Inoue is a physically imposing guy with freakish physical strength, nasty power and the ability to destroy fighters with his heavy hands.
Originally he wasn't a fan of the nickname himself, but the name has stuck and it's certainly summed up his in ring style very, very well. He's a monster, and he destroys things that are in front of him. Not too much more to it than that!
Mikito Nakano - "Manos de Acero"
We've only seen this one used once or twice but the nickname of "Manos de Arceo", literally "Fists of Iron", is attributed to rising Japanese prospect Mikito Nakano and is a name that was absolutely love. It's obviously an alternate take on Roberto Duran's iconic "Manos de Piedra", but is still a damn cool name, and one thing we love is that the name seems to be the Spanish variant, and not a Japanese version.
Although Nakano is certainly not a big name in the sport, yet, he has shown the potential to be a star, and if he can live up to that potential we are going to love hearing announcers yell out "Manos de Acero". A truly brilliant nickname and one befitting of a future star!
Elly Pical - "The Exocet"
Having names like "Bomber" is nothing new in boxing, and we have seen those types of names through out the years. Though taking the name after a specific military weapon of the time is certainly more unique and that was the case with Indonesian great Elly Pical, who adopted the nickname of "The Exocet".
For those under a certain age the name might not stand out too much, but the weapon, which translated as "Flying Fish", was a French made missile that the British used in the Falklands war and it did serious damage. The weapon was making a name for it's self when Pical was starting to create a buzz, and his left hand was dubbed the Exocet, with the fighter himself taking on the nickname later in his career.
Give the force of the military weapon the name was a perfect one for Pical, it's just a shame that he sometimes failed to land with his killer shots, resulting in a surprisingly low KO rate of just 42%.
Veeraphol Sahaprom - "Deathmask"
Although Thai great Veeraphol Sahaprom had a number of nicknames none were as imposing or as threatening as "Deathmask", a nickname that sounded vicious, dangerous and terrifying. The name referred to Sahaprom's amazing poker face, and how he was a visibly emotionless fighter in the ring, but it sounded so much more sinister, like a mask used to suffocate opponents.
Many Thai's do have nicknames that can get lost in translations, but "Deathmask" is just a brilliant nickname and an incredibly unique one, that really gives off a truly terrifying aura. That aura wasn't just an act however, and in the ring Veeraphol was a tremendous fighter, having success in both Muay Thai and professional boxing.
Having been a 2-time world champion and scoring notable wins against many of the top Bantamweights of his era few can doubt the ability of Sahaprom, and his second world title reign was a brilliant one lasting more than 6 years and 14 successful defenses.
As we continue this fun little series we remain in South Korea for a second week running. Last week we looked at Hi Yong Choi and this week we move over to his Hyundai promotions stable mate Young Kyun Park (28-3-1, 16). Like Choi it's fair to say that Park wasn't the most polished or rounded of fighters but he was certainly a thrill a minute fighter with an ultra aggressive style that lead to him being dubbed the "Bulldozer".
As a professional Park fought between 1986 and 1995, holding the WBA Featherweight title in the early 1990's. Although not too well remembered in the West he's the type of fighter that fans typically think of when they think Korean boxing. A strong, come forward fighter with clear technical limitations, but an incredible will to win, terrifying stamina and a jaw of titanium.
With that all said lets bring you the 5 most significant wins for... Young Kyun Park
Kyong-Mo Chung (December 28th 1986)
One thing we mention in a lot of these, at least for Japanese fighters, is their triumph in the Rookie of the Year. The same sort of tournament is held in Korea and in 1986 Park won the tournament, beating Kyong Mo Chung in the final in late December. This was Park's first big win and was his 5th bout in less than 3 weeks. Given how harsh the Korean Rookie of the Year tournaments can be, cramming a lot of fights into a very small time frame, this was a stellar win for Park who showed off his energy and mental toughness. He had fought 11 rounds in the previous bouts in the tournament and yet showed enough in reserve to take a 6 round decision over his foe. Whilst there were much bigger wins to come for him domestically, this is the one that stands out as being the most significant.
Antonio Esparragoza (March 30th 1991)
Despite winning the South Korean Super Bantamweight and OPBF Featherweight titles it's hard to mention either of those as Park's wins at domestic and Oriental title level were rather forgettable. That leaves us with a bit of a gap to Park's second significant win, his WBA Featherweight world title win over Venezuelan puncher Antonio Esparragoza. Coming in to this Esparragoza was 30-1-4 (27), and had been a long reigning world champion, holding the belt since March 1987. His reign had taken him all over the world, with defenses in the US, Italy, Japan, Belgium, Mexico and South Korea, where he had beaten Chan Mok Park 10 months prior to facing Park. Park out worked the 31 year old champion, and explained that he had gotten a bit of luck in catching Esparragoza at the right time. Park's work rate, toughness and desire helped him earn a clear decision over Esparragoza and take the world title just weeks after his stable mate had taken his first, giving Hyundai Promotions two world titles and helping put them on the map.
Eloy Rojas I (September 14th 1991)
In Park's second defense of the WBA title he took on the then unbeaten Eloy Rojas. Rojas, sporting a 22-0 (21) record had a reputation as a heavy handed fighter and momentum of being an unbeaten fighter. Park didn't seem to care about what Rojas brought to the table and pressed forward from the off, backing up Rojas and trying to take him out. Rojas gutted out some awful moments early on and managed to ride out the storm to survive the early onslaught. Although he was brave and tough Rojas was in such a big hole that he ended up coming up well short on the scorecards as Park took a clear decision. These two would later rematch, twice, with Rojas winning both of their subsequent bouts, but without this win Park would never have had the rivalry with Rojas that he had, and that would have been a huge shame.
Seiji Asakawa (January 25th 1992)
If there is a single bout of Park's that needs to be watch it's his 9 round war with Japanese challenger Seiji Asakawa. This was Park's third defense of the WBA title, coming 5 months after his win over Rojas, and boy what a doozy it was. Asakawa had entered as a 2-time Japanese national champion and boasted a 19-2-1 (14) record. At the time Park was 20-1-1 (11) and it was clear that Asakawa entered the bout with the belief that he was the puncher. That wasn't the right gameplan to take into a bout with Park and the Korean broke down Asakawa in a thrilling bout. This is the type of bout where it's immediate significance is perhaps not the highest, but afterwards it's the sort of bout we suggest every fan watches as an introduction to Park, and will certainly be a bout that lives long in the memory. Sometimes having a bout that is a must watch war is every big as significant as a domestic or regional title win, and this is that type of bout.
Koji Matsumoto (April 25th 1992)
The significance of a bout can be very much a debatable subject. On paper Park's 1992 win over Koji Matsumoto, in what Park's 4th defense looks fairly routine. Park stopped Matsumoto in the 11th round whilst a mile ahead on the scorecards. For all intents the bout wasn't a special defense, though it was his first defense against a southpaw. What it actually lead to however was a brilliant friendship between two men who are still close today. Park has stated that Matsumoto is the only former foe he's still in touch with, and Park has been invited to a number of fights in Japan promoted by the Ohashi gym as a result of this contest. In terms of boxing, and Park's legacy the bout isn't one of the most significant, but on a personal level this is a bout that certainly means a lot to both. It's also likely part of the reason the Ohashi gym has been willing to send fighters over to Korea. The longer term significance of this bout is really important, and something that still impacts the sport now, almost 20 years later.
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