Boxing in Japan has become an international thing in recent years, and when a top Japanese fighter is in action the entire boxing world takes note, as we saw with the WBSS Bantamweight final a year ago. Back in an era of imperial Japan however things were very, very different. The one massive star of the era was Tsuneo Horiguchi, also known as Piston Horiguchi.
Whilst we don't expect many fans to be too aware of "Piston Horiguchi" he's a really interesting fighter, one that we won't really be able to do full credit to in this series. Despite that we'll try to teach you something new about Horiguchi with the latest in this series, with 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Piston Horiguchi
1-Horiguchi was the son of a police chief
2-Horiguchi was managed by Yujiro Watanabe, the man who is dubbed the "father of boxing" in Japan. Although Watanabe isn't too well known by fight fans now a days his influence in Japan early on is huge, and he set up the first Japanese boxing, the Nippon Kento Club in 1921.
3-Horiguchi wasn't just managed by a legend, in Watanabe, but he was also trained by a Japanese boxing legend, in the form of Fuji Okamoto, who would later become the president of the Japanese Professional Boxing Association. Although Okamoto's full record isn't known he is regarded as one of the early Japanese champions, and his career pre-dates the Japanese boxing commission.
4-In 1935 Horiguchi played himself in a Japanese movie called "King of the Ring",
5-Horiguchi is reported to be a former Japanese and Oriental Featherweight champion and former Japanese Middleweight champion. It should be noted that these titles pre-date the JBC and OPBF.
6-The May 28th 1941 bout between Horiguchi and Takeshi Sasazaki was dubbed "Fight of the Century" in Japan. Althoygh the venue isn't listed on boxrec we have been informed that it was at the Ryogoku Kokugikan.
7-With over 170 bouts to his name, including at least 138 wins and 82 KO's Horiguchi holds a number of Japanese national records that are not likely to ever be beaten. It's worth noting that there are differing reports on his career record, but the minimum numbers are 176 bouts, 138 wins and 82 KO's, with others reporting he had 183 bouts, 142 wins and 87 KO's. It's worth noting that his official record, as per the gym he set up, is 138-24-14 (82), different to the Boxrec record.
8-Horiguchi passed away in October 1950 at the age of just 36. He died after being hit by a train close to Chigasaki. There are mixed reports as to what he was doing on the train line, though the two main lines of thought are that he was either drunk or suicidal.
9-On Horiguchi's grave, in Chigasaki City, there is an inscription that translates as "Fighting is my Life"
10-The gym that was set up by Horiguchi, the P-Horiguchi Gym, is now run by Horiguchi's grandson. Prior to it's current chairman it had been run by Piston's son, meaning it is now been in the family for 3 generations.
Extra Fact 1 - Horiguchi met Babe Ruth, and the two had their picture taken together, which we've included.
Extra Fact 2 - Horiguchi's career really was intense. He fit his whole 170+ fight caerer into 17 years, which included 0 fights in 1945 and just 2 bouts in 1944. Amazingly he in 1946 he fought 20 bouts, a Japanese record!
(Image courtesy of p-horiguchi.co.jp)
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).