Sometimes referred to as one of Japan's most forgotten world champions Leopard Tamakuma (27-5-1, 13) is not someone who immediately springs to mind when you talk about world champions or top Flyweights. Despite that the man from Aomori City was a very notable fighter during the 1980's and 1990's. His career often goes over-looked despite the fact he had success at every level of the pros, winning Rookie of the Year, Japanese national and world titles.
Despite being over-looked Tamakuma shouldn't be forgotten and with that in mind we want to bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Leopard Tamakuma!
1-When he first started boxing Tamakuma fought as an orthodox fighter, but within a year of him starting the sport he would turn southpaw.
2-As an amateur Tamakuma suffered a loss to future IBF Bantamweight champion Satoshi Shingaki. That was one of only 7 losses Tamakuma had whilst fighting in the unpaid ranks.
3-Tamakuma's regular ring walk music was "Something happened on the way to heaven" by Phil Collins.
4-Interestingly Tamakuma fought under his real name until 1984. His first bout as Leopard Tamakuma came in May 1984, when he fought Takahiro Masaki. The change was due to the traditions of the International Gym, who gave ranked fighters new ring names. Incidentally he actually suffered his first professional loss in the first bout he fought with his new ring name.
5-In 1990 Tamakuma won the WBA Flyweight title, stopping Yul Woo Lee. He would defend the belt, later that year, before being recognised as the Best fighter at the annual Japanese boxing awards and winning the boxing award at the Hochi Professional Sports Awards, becoming only the 7th boxer to receive that honour.
6-Tamakuma's first defense of the WBA Flyweight title, against Jesus Rojas in 1990, managed to be a ratings success, drawing 19.2% on NTV. Sadly however this would be Tamakuma's only successful defense, before he lost the belt to Elvis Alvarez in 1991
7-Talking about NTV the channel did a special on Tamakuma that was called "Leopard Tamakuma - miracle of glory". This showed not only some footage from Tamakuma's in ring career but also featured the man himself talking about the sport and his career, as well as those who were close to him during his career. This is something that is well worth a watch for those who can understand Japanese.
8-The bout with Alvarez sadly saw Tamakuma suffer a detached retina and essentially force the former WBA Flyweight champion into retirement, despite the fact he was still only in his 20's.
9-Following his retirement from the ring Tamakuma has stayed involved in boxing. To begin with he actually remained at the International gym, where he helped trained Celes Kobayashi and Prosper Matsura.
10-Tamakuma opened the Leopard Tamakuma Boxing Gym, his own gym, in November 1995
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).