In recent years unbeaten records have become a marketing tool, to help promote a fighter. In the past they weren't quite the same thing and fighters who had them didn't out and out try to protect them. As a result fighters who retired as world champions with unbeaten records were few and far between. One of the few from Asia was Korean Ji Won Kim, who retired in 1986 with a 16-0-2 (9) record following 4 defenses of the IBF Super Bantamweight title. To this day Kim is one of only 2 Asian men to have retired as an unbeaten world champion, with the other being Pichit Sithbanprachan.
Whilst we suspect many have heard of his name we also doubt fans know much at all about Kim, his life and his career. So here we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Ji Won Kim
1-Kim was one of 6 children in the family.
2-Prior to turning professional Ji Won Kim was an excellent amateur. Whilst we've not been able to track down his full amateur record we know he won the 1980 Asian Championships in Bombay among other international tournaments, and had Korea not boycotted the 1980 Olympics he was expected, by those in Korea, to be in the mix for a medal
3-The first 9 of Ji Won Kim's bouts all went the distance. That's not that interesting until you realise that only 2 of his final 9 bouts went the distance, and only 1 of his 5 world title bouts went the distance, with 3 of them not even going beyond 5 rounds. He is a great example of a fighter developing his power as he built his in ring experience.
4-Whilst Kim's record of 16-0-2 (9) is pretty well known something that perhaps isn't too well known is that both of his draws came to Neptala Alamag, a Filipino who later went on to win the OPBF Bantamweight title. This was the only opponent that Kim failed to defeat during his 18 bout career.
5-Only one of Kim's opponents wasn't from Asia. Ruben Dario Palacio, from Colombia, was the only person Kim faced who wasn't from Korea, the Philipines or Indonesia. In fact Palacio and Saipa Monod, from Indonesia, were his opponents from places other than Korea and the Philippines.
6-Ji won Kim was the third man to hold the IBF Super Bantamweight. He won the title from Sun In Suh, the second champion, and would defend it against both Bobby Berna, the first champion, and Suh. In what is a rather peculiar little detail to his reign as the champion.
7-Kim reportedly earned ₩27,000,000 for his defense against Bobby Berna
8-According to Korean sources the official date of Kim's retirement came on November 24th 1986, more than 5 months after his final world title defense. That means his 18 fight career lasted less than 5 years, and his world title run, which included 4 defenses, lasted less than 2 years.
9-After retiring Kim would go on to have success as an actor and a singer. Interestingly his family are actually talented in the entertainment field as well, with several of his siblings being involved in some form of entertainment, be it singing, acting or even a director. In fact his brother, Jee Woon Kim, has been a very successful director and picking up numerous awards for his work. Whilst Ji Won's sister Ji Sook Kim has been a very successful actress.
10-Also after retiring Kim admitted that he was rather lazy and had he devoted himself to the sport he felt he could have been Korea's first 3 weight world champion. It seems clear that Kim, who stated he retired after issues with the Korean Boxing Commission, could have done a lot more with his career given he was only 26 when he walked away from the ring.
Extra Fact - Ji Won Kim's cousin, Suk-Kim Chang, competed at the 1974 Asian Games in Tehran.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).