Fight fans of the Japanese scene likely recognise the name "Puma Toguchi". The popular Flyweight from the 1990's was one of the countries biggest stars, and ran up an impressive looking record of 23-4 (19). He was tipped for big things, and whilst he failed to live up the expectations on his shoulders he remained a hugely popular fighter, who was rarely in a dull bout.
Born Takato Toguchi in 1969 we suspect that many fans who have seen the name of Puma Toguchi perhaps aren't that familiar with him. Fans maybe aware of his name, without being too aware of the fighter himself. With that in mind, here are 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Puma Toguchi.
1-Prior to beginning his career Toguchi dropped out of Nihon University, where he was attending the School of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine
2-As an amateur fighter Toguchi went an incredible 53-5 (40), having trained under the legendary Shinkichi Kaneshiro, who also helped mould the likes of Tsuyoshi Hamada and Satoshi Shingaki. Although not well known in the west Kaneshiro was one of the most important men in Japanese boxing, and was regarded as having an amazing eye for, and ability to develop, talent.
3-Toguchi, along with Katsuya Onizuka and Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, made up the "Heisei no sanbagarasu", the Trio of Heisei. Toguchi was the only one of the trio not to win a world title, and in many way's was comparable to Katsutoshi Aoki, who was part of a previous trio dubbed the "Trio of Showa".
4-Toguchi lost in the 1987 Inter High School Flyweight final to Hiroshi Kawashima, who later went on to become the WBC Super Flyweight world champion. Despite the loss Toguchi did get revenge in the professional ranks the following year, stopping Kawashima in the East Japan Rookie of the Year Final.
5-In his first 6 bouts Toguchi would beat 2 men who later went on ton win world titles. There was Kawashima, as mentioned, and Manny Melchor, who later won the IBF Minimumweight title. During his career he would also beat former world champions Dodie Boy Penalosa, Tacy Macalos, Eric Chavez and Rolando Pascua
6-One thing we've heard a few times in recent years is the JBC indefinitely suspending a fighters license. Toguchi actually suffered that same fate in 1991, after a scheduled fight with Yuri Arbachakov, then fighting as Yuri Chakov, was cancelled. Officially the bout was cancelled due to Toguchi suffering a right ankle sprain, though it appears there was much more to it, much much more to it and he would have a notable falling out with the Victory gym at the time. Rumours circulated that he'd gotten injured whilst drunk, and things were rather a mess at that point for Toguchi, who's suspension lasted more than 2 years. The poster that was being used for this bout is the one we've featured at the top of this article.
7-In his first bout back after the suspension he faced former world champion Jesus Rojas, after almost 2 and a half years out and without any type of easy comeback bout
8-Despite the issues in 1991, when Toguchi was originally supposed to fight Arbachakov, the two men did finally fight in 1996. That bout saw saw Arbachakov retain the WBC Flyweight title with a 9th round TKO over Toguchi, who fought under his birth name of Takato Toguchi
9-In December 1998 Toguchi was pencilled in to fight the then WBA Super Flyweight champion Satoshi Iida. That fight was cancelled when Toguchi had a suspected stroke. It later turned out that he had been misdiagnosed, and it took a lengthy time for him to return to the ring. In his return he was stopped by domestic journeyman Motonari Kashima, in what would be the final bout for both men.
10 - During his boxing career Toguchi fought for 4 different gyms and was regarded as a tricky man to handle.
Extra Fact 1 - In 1993 Toguchi married got married, he and his wife had 3 children before getting divorced in 2006.
Extra Fact 2 - Toguchi has been suffering from Dementia Pugilistica, and in 2019 the symptoms had worsened to the point where he was having repeated seizures, memory problems, forgot his age and where he lived. Things got so bad that his eldest daughter quit her job to take care of him. Worryingly, due to his health he didn't recognise her.
Extra Fact 3 - The 1996 bout between Toguchi and Arbachakov won the Japanese Fight of the Year. Incidentally that same year Arbachakov took the skills Award and former foe Kawashima took the Best Fighter award, essentially the MVP.
When we talk about the greatest Japanese fighters of all time Fighting Harada and Hiroyuki Ebihara will make any short list. They are two of Japanese boxing's all time legends and two men who will always be regarded very highly by anyone who knows about boxing in Japan. A man who was regarded as better than the pair when they all began their careers in the early 1960's is the now often forgotten Katsutoshi Aoki. He was so good that even Harada himself described Aoki as the most talented, and the trio were all expected to have massive success in their careers, being dubbed the "Shōwa no sanbagarasu", or the "Trio of Showa" relating to the Showa period of Japanese history.
Sadly Aoki had so many issues that he is now rarely remembered by Japanese fight fans, and when he is, he's regarded as one of the nation's biggest boxing disappointments. A man that many believe should have been a world champion, but is better known for issues with drink and crime.
1-Despite being an excellent natural talent Aoki hated training, and did all he could to avoid road work and sparring. Stories from Japan suggest things were so bad that when he was doing unsupervised road work he covered himself in pond water to convince his team he'd worked up a serious sweat. This was a huge part of why he under-achieved in the ring.
2-Aoki was a genuine problem drinker. He would often drink on the morning of fights, and have trouble sleeping the night before fights, mixing alcohol with sleeping pills to try and help him sleep. For some fights he had only 2 hours of sleep.
3-His power saw him being given the moniker of "Megaton Punch".
4-Aoki would lose, by stoppage, to both Ebihara and Harada. His loss to Ebihara saw him lose his unbeaten record, and fall to 16-1-1 (7) whilst the loss to Harada came when Aoki was the OPBF Bantamweight champion and Harada, who was world ranked #1 at the time, was looking to move towards a Bantamweight world title fight.
5-The bout between Aoki and Harada was dubbed "Battle of the Century" in Japan and had a reported attendance of 11,000. Although Aoki wasn't defending his OPBF title, in fact the bout was a 10 round none-title fight, it was seen in Japan as being a world title eliminator for a bout against Eder Jofre.
6-Although his career was a huge disappointment Aoki did achieve a decent amount. Beating the likes of Leo Espinosa, Piero Rollo and Kenji Yonekura and becoming a 2-time OPBF Bantamweight champions, a world title challenger. Amazingly he was just 19 when he first won an OPBF title, showing just how prodigious his talent was.
7-After making his debut, aged 17, on June 6th 1960, Aoki would go 18-1-1 within a year of being a professional fighter. That's 20 fights within a calendar year, one of the most active schedules of any Japanese boxer in history. That level of activity did slow, but he would manage to fight 66 fights into a career that lasted just over 7 years and saw him retire at the age of 25
8-Despite being a heavy drinker, Aoki blamed a lack of luck, not his issues with alcohol or his dislike of training, for his disappointing career.
9-Since retirement Aoki has been arrested a number of times for things ranging from assault, theft, property damage, fraud and possessing illegal stimulants. He had also attempted to commit suicide, at least once. He has also been hospitalized, at least once, for alcoholism.
10-Aoki is featured on the reprinted version of "O Galo De Ouro", a biography about Eder Jofre. Although not on the original 1962 version Aoki is on the reprinted version from 1979, where him being knockdown by Jofre is the cover image, hence the image at the top of this article.
Extra Fact - Aoki had spoke about becoming a kick boxer in 1969, though nothing ever came of this.
Extra Fact 2 - Aoki would lose 10 of his last 12 bouts, including losses to future world title challenger Takao Sakurai and future world champions Kuniaki Shibata and Hiroshi Kobayashi
Extra ...rumour-Over the last 20 years or so news of Aoki has been very limited, and one rumour is that he had been killed by a homeless friend. There is little to support this rumour, but we felt it worthy of including here.
One of the great things about running this site is that people get in contact about fighters who we never expected would get too much interest. Back in December one such reader got in touch about former WBC Flyweight champion Venice Borkhorsor, who held the WBC Flyweight title in the early 1970's, before vacating the title and moving up in weight. Despite being a world, OPBF and Thai champion he was never someone who was particularly on our radar and not someone who'd really figured there much interest in, but there was so little information out there about him.
Whilst he's certainly not one of the big names of Thai boxing his place in history is significant, and he's certainly a fighter who deserves more attention that he's got over the years. With that in mind we thought he was the perfect fighter to include in our "10 facts you probably didn't know about..." series. So here we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Venice Borkhorsor".
1-Borkhorsor comes from a family of fighters, with his Grandfather, brother and uncle all reportedly being fighters, though it appears they were all Muay Thai.
2-Borkhorsor was the first Thai world champion to fight as a southpaw. Incidentally he was the 4th Thai to win a world title, and like the previous 3 he was a Flyweight champion.
3-Sadly for Borkhorsor he simply out grew the Flyweight division, ending his reign after just a single defense. The move up really did hamper his success, even more so when he moved up to Super Bantamweight in the later stages of his career. In his first 35 bouts he lost just once, in his 10th professional bout, but went 15-7 in his final 22. Whilst that did coincide with facing generally better competition losses to Saul Montana and Neptali Alamag and Detkat Kiatboonyong do stand out as being losses to weaker opponents than the fighters he had beaten at Flyweight
4-Although Borkhorsor only made a single defense of the WBC Flyweight title it was a notable one for Thailand, as he defeated Filipino fighter Erbito Salavarria. The talented Salavarria had not only beaten Chartchai Chionoi, taking the WBC Flyweight title from Thailand's second world champion, but had also beaten Berkrerk Chartvanchai, taking Chartvanchai's unbeaten record. Incidentally Chartvanchai would go on to become Thailand's third world champion! Rather coincidentally Salavarria's final bout, in 1978, came against Netrnoi Sor Vorasingh, the 6th world champion from Thailand.
5-Despite being relatively unknown today Borkhorsor was a bit of a globe trotter. Not only did he fight in Thailand but also in Mexico, USA, South Korea, Australia, Venezuala, South Korea and the Philippines.
6-Borkhorsor world title win in 1972, when he stopped the fantastic Betulio Gonzalez, had more than 30,000 people in attendance. Included in those was the Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej, who shook his hand after the bout. The two would meet again following the bout, when the fighter was invited to the King's palace and was famously pictured with the king.
7-At the time of writing Borkhorsor is the only one of the first 6 Thai world champions to still be alive. When we think about that it's actually quite sad, especially given the 6th champion Netrnoi Sor Vorasingh, was only 23 when he passed away in 1982.
8-Following his boxing career Borkhorsor has had an interesting life. He worked an office job, started a recruitment company, which failed, and later became an ordained monk, in the. He has also helped train boxers, including Oley Kiatoneway.
9-In 2014 Borkhorsor looked to become a politician, though wasn't elected.
10-Sadly the latest reports from Thailand reveal that Borkhorsor is currently living in poverty, receiving support from the Thai government and the WBC, though together the payments provided certainly aren't huge amounts. In part the financial situation is due to the failure of the recruitment company he set up.
When we talk about fighters from the past few have a life as interesting and varied as former Japanese world champion Guts Ishimatsu. During a 12 year career he fought 51 times, but in the 40+ years since his retirement he shown that boxing was only a small part of a very, very interesting life. Be it boxing, acting, TV work and a number of other things, Ishimatsu has had his fingers in more pies than we suspect many will be aware of.
Many fans will be aware of Ishimatsu's reign as the WBC Lightweight champion in the 1970's, and many will be aware of his fights with the likes of Robert Duran, Ken Buchanan, Saensak Muangsurin, Ismael Laguna, Esteban de Jesus and Lionel Rose but there was, so much more to Ishimatsu than those legendary opponents
Today we look to share some details about the wonderful life of Ishimatsu as we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Guts Ishimatsu
1-As we're sure you could have guessed, if you didn't already know, but "Guts Ishimatsu" wasn't his birth name. That was Yuji Suzuki. Incidentally he also had a third name, fighting as Ishimatsu Suzuki early in his career before taking the Guts moniker.
2-Prior to becoming a boxer Ishimatsu wanted to become a PE teacher, but left school himself due to the financial situation of his family. He would move to Tokyo and take up various jobs.
3-Ishimatsu is well known for his love of Banana's with the fruit said to be placed all around his house so he can eat them at any time. His relationship with banana's has seen him co-authoring a book with his daughter about banana recipes. Together he and his daughter won the "First Banana Award" and took part in Banana day.
4-On the subject of his daughter, Yuki Suzuki, she was a very talented gymnast as a youngster before beginning a career in entertainment and even becoming a singer for a rock bang, "Wishful BLank". And of course co-writing a book on banana recipes!
5-Ishimatsu is incorrectly credited as creating the "Guts Pose", a celebration pose where a fighter raises both fists above their shoulders. The urban legend has long been that Ishimatsu created it when he won the WBC Lightweight title in 1974. The rumour has been further grown by Japanese quiz shows. In reality it seems the pose was actually created in the 1960's at a US bowling alley.
6-In 1996 Ishimatsu ran for office, as a member of the Liberal Democrat party.
7-Ishimatsu earned his first world title fight due to an upset! In January 1970 he was picked to face Jaguar Kakizawa, who was on the verge of a title fight. At that point Ishimatsu was a 20 year old boasting a distinctly average 15-5-4 (10) record. Kakizawa on the other hand was 34-2-2 (5) and expected to cruise past Ishimatsu. Instead of reading the script Ishimatsu upset his country man and was rewarded with a bout against Ismael Laguna in June that year.
8-After beating Shinichi Kadota in January 1972 Ishimatsu stated he wanted to fight then then WBA champion Ken Buchanan. That fight would happen, but not whilst Buchanan was the champion. Instead it took place in 1975 in what was Ishimatsu 3rd defense of the WBC Lightweight title.
9-Following his retirement from the ring Ishimatsu has been busy with acting and work as a "talent". This has seen him star in a number of movies and TV shows, including Steven Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun" and Ridley Scott's "Black Rain". According to IMDB he currently has 71 acting credits to his name, 2 director credits, 2 writer credits and 1 as a producer!
10-Guts Ishimatsu was one of the 6 world champions trained by the legendary Eddie Townsend, who also trained the likes of Hiroki Ioka and Hiroyuki Ebihara and Kuniaki Shibata
Extra Fact 1 - Ishimatsu has explained that the reason he turned to acting was to star along Ken Takakura who was his childhood hero. The two starred together in the aforementioned "Black Rain"
Extra Fact 2 - Hanawa recorded a song called that translates as "Legendary Mana - Viva Guts". Sadly it's rather hard to find a recording of this that we can share. As a result of us not finding any footage of that song we have included a video of Ishimatsu and Daisuke Naito in a series of mobile phone adverts!
(Image courtesy of http://jpba.gr.jp)
Boxing history is one of those things that fans either care rabidly about, or doesn't care much at all for. Despite that there are names that most fans have heard of, even if just in passing. Fans might not be too aware of them, but will recognise their names. One such fighter is Royal Kobayashi. The Japanese puncher was a short term WBC Super Bantamweight champion in the mid 1970's and an Olympian in 1972, and although he's well remembered now a days he did fight a bit of a "who's who" of the time and was certain a fun to watch fighter, who deserves more attention than he gets.
With that in mind we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Royal Kobayashi!
1-Whilst we mentioned in the introduction that Kobayashi was a former Olympian that was only part of his amateur career. In the unpaid ranks he went 34-3 (28), winning 2 All Japan championships and reaching the final 8 of the '72 Olympics. In the unpaid ranks he was always considered a fighter with a professional style and a huge punch.
2-Kobayashi's, in 1973, debut was an 8 rounder! Whilst these aren't totally unheard of, they are incredibly rare in Japan and the most recent Japanese fighter to debut in such a bout was Naoya Inoue in 2012. Inoue's was the first since 1987, when Takeyuki Akagi debuted in such a bout.
3-Rather surprisingly Kobayashi's first title fight, of any kind, came against a legitimate all time great. Rather than coming through the ranks and claiming a national or regional title he faced off with the legendary Alexis Arguello for the WBA Featherweight title. Sadly for Kobayashi he was no match for the Explosive Thin Man, and was stopped in the 5th round by the Nicaraguan great.
4-On the mention of Arguello it's worth noting just how good Kobayashi's competition was and he faced 3 IBHOF fighters in the space of 36 months. The first of those was Arguello, in October 1975, then came Wilfredo Gomez in January 1978 before Eusebio Pedroza in January 1979!
5-In the introduction we mentioned that Kobayashi was "a short term WBC Super Bantamweight champion" and we really do mean that. He has one of the shortest reigns world title reigns in modern history, holding the belt for his 46 days, not including the day he lost it. He won the belt on October 9th 1976, when he stopped Rigoberto Riasco at the Kokugikan in Tokyo and lost it on November 24th 1976, to Korean Dong Kyun Yum.
6-Kobayashi was the first Japanese Olympian to win a world title.
7-Kobayashi's world title win came just a day before Yoko Gushiken won the WBA Light Flyweight title, with that win coming on October 10th 1976.
8-Kobayashi birth name was Kazuo Kobayashi, a name that is shared with a Japanese journalist born in 1940 and a former Japanese politician, born in 1935.
9-We've already mentioned that Kobayashi was the first Japanese world champion to have fought at the Olympics but he is also the first Japanese champion to have graduated university.
10-As a professional Kobayashi was managed by the International gym, which as run by former world title challenger Yoshinori Takahashi, who took on Eddie Perkins for the WBA and WBC Light Welterweights in 1964. Kobayashi was one of 3 champions from the gym, which also lead Leopard Tamakuma and Celes Kobayashi to world titles.
(Image courtesy of http://jpba.gr.jp/)
Japanese boxing is currently going through a real golden generation with a lot of amazingly talented fighters making their mark on the sport. The generation of fighters we have now will likely go down as being the best, so far, in terms of talent, potential and achievement. It is however worth noting that in the 1990's there was another generation of Japanese fighters who were headed by some incredibly popular fighters. There is, of course, Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, who was the nation's biggest boxing enigma, and the massively well liked Katsuya Onizuka.
Onizuka, known as "Spanky K" was the WBA Super Flyweight champion from April 1992 to September 1994, and piled up an excellent 24-1 (17) record as a professional. Whilst he was well liked in Japan, Western fans likely don't know much about him, so here are 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Katsuya Onizuka.
1-As a child Onizuka suffered from asthma and reportedly began boxing to build up his physical strength. He has publicly stated that he "wanted to be strong" during that time of his life.
2-As an amateur Onizuka went 38-5 (20), with 1 of his 5 losses coming to future WBC Super Flyweight champion Hiroshi Kawashima. His amateur credentials included being crowned the 1986 High School champion at Light Flyweight.
3- In his 13th professional bout Onizuka faced OPBF Super Flyweight champion Tatsuya Sugi, and stopped Sugi in the 7th round. This however wasn't a title fight, despite both men making the 115lbs limit.
4-In 1992 Khaosai Galaxy announced his retirement, Onizuka was the WBA #1 contender and would have been the mandatory for the Thai great.
5-As a teenager Onizuka went to Thailand to train, and watched a bout of future foe Thanomsak Sithbaobay, a man who Onizuka twice scraped close decision wins against. Onizuka seemingly regarded Thanomsak very highly after watching him in the flesh, years before they met in the ring.
6-Despite only losing once as a professional Onizuka retired following his sole defeat. The reason for the retirement wasn't solely the loss though, and instead it was down to suffering a retinal detachment which forced him to hang up the gloves as an active fighter. He did however remain involved in the sport and set up the Spanky K sacred Boxing hall in Fukuoka
7-Onizuka's name and likeness was used in a Super Famicom boxing game, "Onizuka Katsuya Super Virtual Boxing", which was played from a 1st person perspective.
8-After retiring from boxing Onizuka looked for a second career and, began working at a Kindergarten, did commentary for TBS and was involved in fashion design, continuing the reputation he had crafted as a boxer with style from his in ring career.
9-In 1998 Onizuka featured in a full length Japanese movie, "The Revenge of the Wolves". This was seemingly his acting debut, and was a violent movie that (sadly whilst this was on youtube when we first scheduled the article to be posted it has since been removed from the site)
10-Also following his retirement from the ring Onizuka has had success as a artist, and has held exhibitions with his paintings on show. His artwork has been genuinely successful, and it's has been shown across Japan. He's a particularly accomplished painter.
In recent year's Korean boxing has been a mess, with political wrangling and ego's preventing the once excellent Korean boxing scene from being what it could be. For many newer fans they may never have even seen a Korean world champion. The latest of those was more than a decade ago, when legendary tough guy In Jin Chi had his second world title reign.
Whilst fans of the sport perhaps are aware of Chi, and his fights against the likes of Erik Morales and Michael Brodie, there are lots that is unknown about Chi. With that in mind we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...In Jin Chi.
1-Chi first began boxing in first grade, and made his debut as a teenager due to the fact he needed to make money.
2-Chi, like Bernard Hopkins, Alexis Arguello, Rafael Marquez, Kohei Kono and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, lost on his debut before later going on to win a world title. Chi's debut loss was a decision to fellow debutant Tae Sun Park in 1991, in what is Park's only recorded bout. According to reports in Korea he was actually dropped twice in this bout.
3-Aside from his debut loss, the only other marks on his record came at world level. These were his 2001 loss to Erik Morales, his 2003 draw with Michael Brodie and his 2006 loss to Takashi Koshimoto. All 3 of these results occurred outside of Korea.
4-Chi reportedly kept the equivalent of $10,000 from his bout with Rodolfo Lopez, with his team taking around the same from him. This later lead to him describing his career as being like that of a "modern slave" before he retired.
5-Staying on the subject of money, which was an issue throughout Chi's career, he was working part time when he was a Korean champion and worked on a construction site in the mid 1990's, after winning the OPBF title. Sadly Chi never got to defend the OPBF Bantamweight title and cash in on that success.
6-When Chi regained the WBC Featherweight title, with his win over Lopez, he dedicated his win to his daughter. At the time he had one daughter and one son.
7-In 2004 there was talk in the Korean press of Chi facing Juan Manuel Marquez, in what would have been an IBF/WBA/WBC Featherweight unification bout. Donga.com reported that there could be up to $500,000 as a purse for Chi for that bout. Sadly for Chi that bout never came off.
8-At the time of writing Chi is the last Korean male world champion, last holding a title more than a decade ago. He has however been followed by several female world champions, including Hyun Mi Choi who won her first world title on her debut.
9-After finishing his boxing career Chi turned to K-1 and beat Ryuji Kajiwara in his kickboxing debut in Japan.
10- Following the end of his combat sport career Chi has gone on to run a boxing club, and still plays a role in Korean boxing, though obviously the sport is a long, long way from where it once was in the country. His club was responsible for the development of female fighter Su Yun Hong, who also went on to win a world title. Interestingly he has also enjoyed golfing since his retirement from being an active fighter.
The early era of Korean boxing is often ill remembered. Whilst many fans remember the 1980's and even early 1990's for Korean success what happened in the 70's is rarely talked about, despite it being a really interesting era for boxing in the country. Today we take a look at one of the early Korean world champions, Jae Doo Yuh, who was a national hero in the mid to late 70's, and a man who was responsible for several Korean records.
Whilt Yuh is remembered that well he is a very, very interesting fighter and with that in mind we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Jae Doo Yuh.
1--Yuh was the third Korean world champion, following Ki Soo Kim and Soo Hwan Hong. Rather oddly Kim and Yuh both held world titles at 154lbs and the OPBF (or OBF as it was known) title at Middleweight, and defended both, switching between the two weight classes.
2-In 1975 there was a biographical movie released about Yuh, entitled "눈물젖은 샌드백", which appears to translate as "Tearful Sandbag". That movie, in full, can be seen below this article.
3-In 2012 Yuh revealed that boxing did take a toll on his health and that his eyes were faltering. It appears his sight wasn't terrible but he did add that he doesn't drive at night time due issues with his eyes.
4-With 21 officially recognised defenses of the OPBF Middleweight title, or OBF title as it was known for much of his reign, he has more defenses of Oriental title in a single reign than any other fighter! Interestinestly a number of those defenses came whilst he was also holding a world title at 154lbs!
5-Had Yuh beaten Koichi Wajima in their second bout in 1976, the plan was for Yuh to face the then WBA champion Carlos Monzon.
6-Interestingly rumours have circulated that Yuh was actually drugged ahead of the Wajima rematch. The theory has long been that strawberries Yuh ate were poisoned hence him losing to a fighter he had beaten just 8 months earlier. In 31 bouts against Japanese fighters this was Yuh's only loss, going 29-1-1 in total against Japanese opponents.
7-Yuh's title win over Koichi Wajima was the first time a Korean fighter had ever scored a knockout in a world title bout. With that win he became the first Korean to win a world title by T/KO
8-Similarly when Yuh defeated Masahiro Misako on November 11th 1975 he became the first Korean fighter to successfully defend a world title on the road. Sadly like Ki Soo Kim and Soo Hwan Hong he went on to lose the title on the road. A second note about that win over Misako, is that it was also the first time a Korean world champion had defended a title by T/KO.
9-Yuh's popularity in Korea saw him being regularly invited to take part in politics. He has however declined, preferring to focus on boxing and creating a new generation of Korean fighters.
10-Interestingly Yuh was born in a era of Korean history where he was technically born when Korea was under the rule of the United States Army Military Government in Korea (USAMGIK). As a result some places list him as having been born under the American flag, rather than a Korean one. Though the USAMGIK would end only months after Yuh was born.
Extra Fact (potentially) - At least two sources stated that Yuh was supposed to compete at the 1968 Olympics, but was disqualified. due to a weighing mishap. Sadly though it's hard to get much in terms of solid and concrete details about his amateur career.
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.
When people talk about legendary Korean fighters names that often pop up are Jung Koo Chang, widely regarded as the greatest Korean fighter of all time, Ki Soo Kim, the first Korean world champion, Sung Kil Moon, a 2-weight world champion, and Myung Woo Yuh.
For this weeks 10 facts you probably didn't know about... we look Myung Woo Yuh.
The obvious details about Yuh are that he was a 2-time WBA Light Flyweight champion who run ran up a total of 18 defenses, with his first reign consisting of 17 of them, and that he beat everyone he faced, avenging his sole loss to Hiroki Ioka to become a 2-time champion. There is however a lot that fans don't know about the all action "Sonagi"
1-He began boxing at the Han River Middle School, in his first year there. As an amateur he reportedly went 1-3, whilst fighting at 45KG's. Due to his style not fitting the amateurs very well he turned professional aged just 18.
2-Yuh won the Korean Rookie of the Year tournament at Flyweight when he beat HyoYoung Park in July 1982
3-Yuh had awful problems making weight through much of his career, needing to cut down from 60KG's (132.27lbs) to 49KG's (108lbs), to hit his fighting weight.
4-Yuh's father was a bus driver and Yuh himself would use public transport whenever possible, not buying a car of his own until after his father retired. Once declining a free car from a manufacturer due to his dad's job
5-In 1988 Yuh was the highest paid boxer in Korea, out earning the likes of Park Jong-pal, Jung Koo Chang and Sung Kil Moon. During the year he earned a reported ₩380,000,000. In today's money that would be around ₩1,172,380,000, or $984,000.
6-Yuh married his wife in 1989, with over 300 guests. Included in the guests was the then WBC Super Middleweight champion In Chul Baek.
7-Yuh had hoped to retire unbeaten after scoring 20 defenses of the WBA Light Flyweight title. Those hopes were dashed when he lost in his international debut, losing a close decision to Hiroki Ioka. He would avenge the loss but admit the loss upset him and ended one of his dreams.
8-After retiring from active boxing Yuh would set up Buffalo Gym and Buffalo Promotions in the hope of developing the next generation of Korean fighters. He has also run a restaurant in Korea.
9-In 2017 Yuh was scheduled to compete in an exhibition bout with fellow Korean boxing legend Jung Koo Chang. Sadly that was cancelled due to pressure from others about the venue of the bout, which would have been on islands that Japand and Korea dispute. Sadly nothing has been done to reschedule the bout for some other venue.
10-Talking about Chang, Yuh has revealed in interviews that he feels he would have lost had he faced the "Korean Hawk" and also revealed that reasons for the bout not taking place included issues with TV, as he was an MBC fighter and Chang was a KBS fighter, and that it was better to have 2 Korean champions than just 1.
Extra Fact 1 - Yuh was twice appointed to be the Secretary General of the KBC, in 2009 and in 2012, but failed to sit a full term in either due to the political wrangling inside the KBC.
Extra Fact 2 - Yuh was the 2nd Korean inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, following Jung Koo Chang.
Extra Fact 3 - The brilliant 1985 bout between Yuh and Oh Kong Son was a WBA world title eliminator.
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).