Japanese fighters are usually associated with the lower weight classes, however there are a few fighters who have made a mark in and around the Middleweight division, such as Ryota Murata, Nobuhiro Ishida and Shinji Takehara (24-1, 18).
In the 1995 Takehara became the first Japanese fighter to win a world Middleweight title, and although his reign was short he is certainly a man who made his mark in boxing history. Whilst his place is known, at least by hardcore fans, there is a lot that isn't widely known about Takehara, so with that in mind, we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Shinji Takehara
1-Before taking up boxing he had enrolled at a Judo club. Interestingly his father actually ran a boxing gym in Hiroshima, and forced a young Shinji to attend due to his misbehaviour
2-Takehara failed to get into high school, failing to pass several entrance exams as a youngster.
3-Prior to making his professional debut Takehara had worked at the Yokohama Arena, the same venue that he fought William Joppy at in 1996.
4-Altough not many of Takehara's opponents are well known in the west he did have 3 domestic foes on his record which are worthy of note. He was the only man to beat Hisashi Teraji, the father of Kenshiro, he beat 2-time world title challenger Yoshinori Nishizawa and he holds a win over Biney Martin, who is now one of the most highly regarded referees in Japan.
5-Takehara was involved in a very rare double knockdown in September 1995. It came in the 8th round of his second bout with Sung Chun Lee as both men landed huge left hooks at the same time. This was just months before he fought in his career defining bout with Jorge Castro, which he won by decision to claim the WBA Middleweight title
6-When he won the WBA Middleweight title he was only the second man from the Oriental region to have achieved the feat, following in the footsteps of Filipino Ceferino Garcia, who had accomplished the same feat 46 years earlier!
7-Takehara runs a gym with close friend Takanori Hatakeyama, called the T&H Boxer Fitness Gym. The gym is a professionally licensed boxing gym and has guided a number of professionals through their career, including Naoko Fujioka.
8-Takehara was forced into retirement due to a detached retina. It's assumed the issues had actually effected him prior to his final fight, against William Joppy, but hadn't been diagnosed until after the fight.
9-Following his retirement from the ring Takehara had gone into acting, but was unable to get a significant amount of work, so worked part time in a tanning salon. Since then he has set up health brands and sold things like a sweat suit, trainers and diet foods. His "30upDIET" product was selling 20,000 items a day in it's peak thanks to QVC's mail order.
10-In 2014 Takehara was diagnosed with bladder cancer. That conditioned worsened as it spread to his lymph nodes, though thanks to treatment he is now in remission.
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).