One of the modern day Japanese greats is Shinsuke Yamanaka, who had a fantastic career, going 27-2-2 (19) and running up an excellent 12 world title defenses. Dubbed "God's Left" due to the power in his straight left hand Yamanaka was never the most versatile of fighters, but he perfect playing to his strengths, and his 1-2 was genuine dynamite.
During his great career he would score notable wins over the likes of Vic Darchinyan, Romas Rojas, Malcolm Tunacao, Suriyan Por Chokchai, Anselmo Moreno and Liborio Solis though ended his career following controversial back to back losses to Luis Nery.
Unlike many fighters from Japan Yamanaka had a solid following among fight fans from the west, but there was still plenty of things we suspect didn't know about the heavy handed southpaw.
With that in mind we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Shinsuke Yamanaka, in what is our final 10 facts you probably didn't know about... article for 2019! Don't worry however as we will be back in the new year with more of these!
1-When he was 14, and before really picking up the sport, Yamanaka wrote in his junior high school graduation book "WBC世界チャンピオンになる" (WBC sekai chanpion ni naru) which translates as "become a WBC World Champion".
2-Yamanaka began boxing as an orthodox fighter, though converted to southpaw under advice from his high school teacher Maekawa Takemoto. Sadly Mr Takemoto passed away in 2010, before Yamanaka managed to win the WBC Bantamweight title. Added to this is the fact he's not actually right handed, in fact he's somewhat ambidextrous and revealed he would write left handed, but use chopsticks and scissors right handed, and also played baseball right handed.
3-Prior to being caught by the boxing bug Yamanaka played baseball at junior high school. He decided to pursue boxing in 1997 when he watched Joichiro Tatsuyoshi's bout with Sirimongkol Singwancha.
4-As an amateur Yamanaka went 34-13 (10)
5-Following some poor results whilst boxing as an amateur at university Yamanaka considered walking away from the sport, and came very close to retiring, before the fire he had had for the sport in high school re-emerged. Thankfully for Japanese boxing, his decision to turn professional turned out to be a great one, and lead to one of the most remarkable careers of a Japanese fighter in recent years.
6-Through his entire career Yamanaka was a Bantamweight, and there was only 4 times in 31 bouts that he came in above the 118lbs limit, the most he ever weighed in at was 120¼lbs, for his 13th professional bout.
7-Although noted for his power, especially in his left hand, Yamanaka only scored 2 early wins in his first 8 bouts, going 6-0-2 (2) during that early stretch. In his following 23 bouts he scored 17 stoppages, going 21-0-2 (17) during that run including a 9 fight stoppage run.
8-When Yamanaka stopped Jose Nieves in the first round he caused NTV to change their plans of using social media to engage the fans. Originally they had planned to use twitter to increase fan interest, letting fans tweet who they thought had won each round...unfortunately the bout was over before the tweeting really began and before the opening round was even over.
9-With 12 defenses of the WBC Bantamweight title to his name he holds second place for most successive defenses of a world title by a Japanese male fighter. The male record is held by Yoko Gushiken, at 13, whilst Momo Koseki holds the record if you include female fighters, at 17.
10-In 2019, well after his professional retirement, Yamanaka became an Executive Advisor for Japanese company Angfa Ltd, which sells things like shampoo, health food and cosmetics.
Extra Fact - From 2011 to 2016 Yamanaka picked up at least 1 of the awards at the annual Japanese boxing awards. He won the skills award 3 times, the KO award 3 times, the MVP twice and the Fight of the Year during that run.
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).