An interesting, though often over-looked fighter, is Koji Kobayashi (24-4-3, 15) who held the WBC and Lineal Flyweight title in the mid 1980's. His career was short, lasting less than 7 years between his debut and his final career bout, but he was someone who left a mark on the sport and helped establish one of the main Japanese gyms.
Kobayashi wasn't a typical boxer. He wasn't someone who had a long amateur career before turning professional but he was someone who had a dangerous straight left hand, under-rated skills and a suspect chin. In fact all 4 of his losses were by stoppage. He was a dangerous fighter, but one lacking durability and this generally made his fights fun to watch. They could, genuinely end, at any moment making his fights ones that you simply had to watch if you could
To help shine a light on Kobayashi and his career we've decided that this week we're bringing you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Koji Kobayashi
1-Kobayashi graduated from the Nishogakusha University High School. Sadly it's not somewhere that has given us many boxers, with Kobayashi being the most notable, by far. One other fighter to graduate was former 4-time Japanese title challenger Yoshihiro Yamamoto, he's a distant second in terms of most notable fighters to have graduated from there.
2-Unlike many fighters, who turn to boxing for money, fame or to chase a sporting ambition, Kobayashi took to boxing to help maintain his health and fitness. He was reported not very good at sport and physical activity and before he started boxing was beaten in an arm wrestling contest by a girl.
3-Prior to taking to boxing Kobayashi had planned to be a designer. Of course the whole boxing thing worked out surprisingly well for him.
4-In February 1980 Kobayashi suffered his first professional loss, losing in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final at Flyweight to future world champion Jiro Watanabe inside a round. This was one of the very rare occasions where the two fighters in the All Japan Rookie of the Year final both went on to win a world title.
5-Kobayashi was the first world champion from the Kadoebi Gym, which has also guided Eagle Den Junlaphan, Yusuke Kobori and Yukinori Oguni to world titles.
6-When Kobayashi lost the WBC Flyweight title to Gabriel Bernal in April 1984 he was the sixth successive champion to lose the belt in his first defense. This run began in 1982, when Prudencio Cardona dethroned Antonio Avelar, and ended when Kobayashi's conqueror Gabriel Bernal notched a success defense against against Antoine Montero.
7-A rather staggering 28 of Kobasyhi's 31 bouts took place at Korakuen Hall. The ones that didn't took place in either Osaka or Fukui.
8-Rather strangely Kobayshi's final bout came on his 28th birthday! Sadly he wasn't given a birthday treat to remember as he was stopped in 7 rounds by Yoshiyuki Uchida, and decided to retire after that loss.
9-The Kadoebi Gym have a comic strip about Kobayashi on their website. The 15 part series features Kobayashi's full career among it's panels. He is one of only 3 fighters to be given this treatment by the gym, along with Den Junlaphan and Yusuke Kobori.
10-After retiring from boxing Kobayashi became a public servant
When we look back at forgotten world champions one name that seems to rarely be mentioned is Celes Kobayashi (24-5-3, 14), who fought 1992 and 2002 and won the WBA Super Flyweight title late in his career. His time at the top was short, and in fact he was a world champion for less than a year, but his career was certainly a notable one, and he continues to be involved in the sport, in a number of ways.
Whilst never a "star of the sport" Kobayashi is, sadly, very much a forgotten fighter, despite winning a belt only around 20 years ago. With that in mind we've decided this week to shine a light Kobayashi and share 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Celes Kobayashi
1-Kobayashi went to the Ibaraki Prefectural Iwai Nishi High School, which was closed in 2010, when it merged with another local school in Ibaraki. Sadly he's one of the very, very few notable people from the High School. The other notables are a former Motorcycle racer and a former professional soccer player.
2-The ring name of "Celes" was taken from the company he used to work for. His real name is Shoji Kobayashi, though through his boxing career, including his post-in ring career, he has always been regarded as "Celes"
3-Former fighter Toshimi Miura, better known as Crusher Miura, served as Kobayashi's trainer at the International Boxing Sports Gym in Tokyo. Interestingly Kobayashi was the third, and final, world champion from the gym, following in the footsteps of Royal Kobayashi and Leopard Tamakuma. Unsurprisingly the other notable fighters at the gym also had interesting, and often unique, names due to the gym's policy of having fighters adopt names, typically an English word, to go along with their family name when they became a JBCranked fighter.
4-Kobayashi's ring walk music was, usually, "Anthem of the World" by Stratovarious. We've included the track at the end of this video for those wanting to give it a listen.
5-Kobayashi is one of the many fighters who lost their professional debut before winning a world title. In fact he lost 2 of his first 5 bouts, and also came up short in his first 2 Japanese title fights and his first world title fight. As a side note, his draw with Malcolm Tunacao, in his first world title fight, was reportedly down to a scoring error by Korean judge Dae Eun Chung, who scored in favour of Tunacao resulting in a split decision draw.
6-During his 32 fight career Kobayashi never fought in January. It was the only month that he never had a professional bout in. Whilst bouts are less common in January in Japan, that still appears to be a strange stat for a man who had a decade long career.
7-On a similar note to the previous fact 3 of Kobayashi's most notable bouts came in the month of March. These were his 1999 win over Hideyasu Ishihara, who was a very highly touted prospect at the time and Kobayashi's win boosted his career massively, his 2001 win over Leo Gamez to become the WBA Super Flyweight world champion, and his 2002 loss to Alexander Munoz, which saw Kobayashi lose the world title and subsequently retire from the sport aged 29.
8-In 2002 Koabayashi released an autobiography, talking about his life as a boxer and an office worker, and the following year he released a second book, this time about how to improve as a boxer. Rather surprisingly the autobiography is a very small book, at just 175 pages whilst his other book is even short, at a listed 159 pages.
9-Following his retirement from the ring Kobayashi remained at the International Gym, where he worked as a trainer and passed on his knowledge to a younger generation. That was until 2003 when he left the gym and opened up the Celes Boxing Sports Gym, the same gym that still exists to this day and is best known for having developed Ryosuke Iwasa into a world champion.
10-The Celes gym isn't the only current focus for the former champion. He also currently works as commentator for G+, doing the commentary for their Dynamic Glove series of shows. He's regarded as one of the most knowledgable men in Japanese boxing, and passes that knowledge on well with his insight as a commentator. He also contributes to the Sports Hochi as a writer and has featured in a number of "talent" activities as well
When it comes to fan friendly fighters from the past 10 years or saw few were as consistently entertaining as former 2-time WBA Super Flyweight champion Kohei Kono (33-12-1, 14), who not only excited fans but also proved that records are for DJ's. Despite ending his career with 12 losses Kono was a 2-time world champion, spent the better part of a decade in the Ring Magazine divisional rankings, competed in 10 world title fights and scored notable wins against the likes of Tepparith Kokietgym, Denkaosan Kaovichit and Koki Kameda.
During a career that ran from 2000 to 2018 Kono achieved an incredible amount, He was the East Japan Rookie of the Year winner, a Japanese champion, a 2-time OPBF champion and a 2-time WBA champion. He faced a genuine who's who, including Nobuo Nashiro, Tomas Rojas, Yota Sato, Tepparith Kokietgym, Liborio Solis, Denkaosan Kaovichit, Koki Kameda, Luis Concepcion, Naoya Inoue and Jason Moloney. He also put on thrillers, not just with some of those guys but also fighters like Teppei Kikui, with the third bout between Kono and Kikui being something really special.
Rather than talking about the obvious, Kono being exciting, we're here today to shine a light on more of Kono's life and career as we share 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Kohei Kono
1-Prior to turning to boxing Kono was interested in track and field, and had actually been part of the track and field club at high school. He switched to boxing after he began to read a book entitled "Become a professional boxer in 6 months". He would later begin boxing at the Watanabe gym in 1999 under the tutelage of Tomoaki Takahashi.
2-Unlike most world champion's Kono's amateur record is not a good one. In fact it's widely reported that he went 2-2 in the unpaid ranks, before turning professional in 2000.
3-Similarly Kono is also among the rather small number of world champions who lost on debut, losing a 4 round decision to Yoshiaki Nitta on November 22nd 2000, in what was an all debutant bout. Following this loss Kono's father changed his views on boxing, and went from not wanting to see his son fighting to positively helping Kohei train, and turned his living room into a practice area.
4-In regards to his professional debut, it came on November 22nd 2000, just a single day before Kono's 20th birthday! Rather oddly it was one of just 3 bouts he had during the month of November. The other's were in 2002 and 2003.
5- In 2013 Kono, alongside Tadashi Yuba, appeared in the music video for Kavka Shishido's track "Kiken na Futari". The two boxers featured in an under-ground fight in the video. The track it's self broke into the top 65 in the Japanese Oricon Singles chart
6-Kono was reportedly very shrewd with money and it wad reported that his living costs, in 2013 and early 2014 was between 20,000 and 30,000 Yen a month. This would have been around $200 to $300 at the time. Kono's then promoter Hitoshi Watanabe explained that Kono doesn't drink alcohol, didn't eat out, and was able to live off just his boxing income at the time. This essentially allowed him to focus on his boxing career, and he gave up the part time job he had had when he won the Japanese national title in 2007.
7-Kono was given two different nicknames, for very different reasons. The most famous of those was "Tough Boy", due to his incredible toughness and durability through his career. The other much less well known, was the "Japanese Pacquiao", which he seemingly adopted for a short time in 2015 after a short training camp with Freddie Roach. The nickname came from his similar looks to Pacquiao and was something he was called by a female employee at a duty free shop when he arrived back home in Japan. Sadly the "Japanese Pacquiao" moniker seemed to be a very, very short lived one.
8- Incidentally Kono was also mistaken for Pacquiao at one of the WBA's General Assembly's, with the two looking incredibly similar at the time.
9-On October 7th 2015 Kono got married. Interestingly his wife was the daughter of well known Japanese folk singer Minami Rambo.
10-When he retired in 2018 he held a press conference with Hitoshi Watanabe and revealed a few interesting details about his career and what he was hoping to do after boxing. During this press conference he explained the best moment of his career was his with Tepparith Kokietgym, the most exciting was his bout with Koki Kameda and that he was planning to take over the Gaienmae Chiropractic Center, which is run by his father.
Bonus fact -
1 - It's often been reported that had Kono lost in his December 2012 bout with Tepparith Kokietgym he would have retired from boxing.
2 - Kono's bout with Koki Kameda is the first, and so far only, time we've had an all-Japanese world title bout on US soil. This was because Kameda, at the time, was unable to secure a license to fight in Japan and was the WBA mandatory for Kono, forcing the bout to be held on neutral territory for both men.
It's fair to say that when it comes to Japanese boxing a lot of focus is on what happens in Tokyo, and then what happens in Osaka. Those two markets dominate the Japanese boxing scene and everything else is secondary. As a result there are a lot of fighters from Central Japan who don't get talked about too much. One such fighter is former WBA Super Flyweight champion Satoshi Iida (25-2-1, 11), who's face is among the most seen by fans who follow Japanese boxing, even if he is rarely talked about.
Iiida fought from 1991 to 1998, squeezing 28 fights into his career, that lasted just shy of 8 years. During that time he wonRookie honours, national honours and the WBA world title. He was also involved in 6 world tittle fights, and beat the likes of Rolando Bohol, Yokthai Sithoar, Hiroki Ioka and Julio Gamboa.
Today we're going to try and share some more facts about Iida as we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Satoshi Iida
1-It's reported that Iida began boxing when he was at the Gifu Kyoritsu University. Rather notably he appears to be the only famous boxer to have gone there, though there are other Japanese sporting successes from the University, including rising baseball pitcher Kaito Yoza of the Saitama Seibu Lions.
2-Before turning professional Iida had received guidance with his career from Jiro Watanabe and Katsuo Tokashiki, as part of a TV show. What makes this even more interesting as a fact is the TV show in question essentially had it's title translated to "TV uplifting of genius, Takeshi!" and featured none other than Takeshi Kitano in a major role. That's the same Takeshi Kitano, or Beat Takeshi as he's sometimes more well known, that was also the Takeshi in "Takeshi's Castle".
3-Within a year of his debut Iida had been crowned the All Japan Rookie of the year, beating Jiro Matsushima. Just over 2 years later Iida would claim the Japanese Super Flyweight title, again defeat Matsushima.
4-At the time of writing Iida is one of only two champions from the Midori Boxing Gym. The other was Hideki Todaka. Interestingly both men won the WBA Super Flyweight title with Todaka winning it from the man who had dethroned Iida.
5-Rather oddly for a world champion Iida's bouts rarely came on prime time Japanese TV, and were rarely shown through the country. Instead he was very much a local star in the Chukyo region, and, much like Kosei Tanaka in recent years, he was pushed heavily by a TV channel in the local area, CTV in Iida's case and CBC in Tanaka's case. Despite the lack of mainstream attention across Japan, he was a very successful "local" star, and is one of the few world champions from the Chukyo region.
6-Due to his good looks Iida was regarded as being an "Idol Boxer", a bit of a back handed compliment in which they were essentially saying he was too pretty for boxing, though credit to Iida he proved critics wrong by becoming a world champion and still maintained a pretty un-marked face.
7-Following his retirement from the ring Iida set up a training program for kids, and since then has actually gone further opening up 2 training facilities, one of which is the "Satoshi Iida Boxing Academy Box Fai" which is in Toyko.
8-Since 2008 Iida has released several books and a DVD. Interestingly the books focus on what appears to be training the eyes and vision, something he also focuses on at the aforementioned "Box Fai".
9-Iida shares his name with a character from Kamen Rider Hibiki, played by Tsutomu "Ben" Hura, who is well known for dubbing American actors for Japanese movie releases, including Bruce Willis and Joe Pesci.
10-Now a days Iida is often seen doing commentary for boxing events, adding his knowledge and personality to broadcasts in Japan. He also contributes to Japanese magazine "Boxing Beat". Given his TV work, his face really is seen more than that of many active fighters, at least regards to televised boxing events.
Iida's career had some strange little details in regards to dates. One of those was that he fought 6 times April 29th, which is a national holiday by the name of "Shōwa Day". The only other date where he fought more than once was December 23rd, fighting twice on that date, which coincided with the "The Emperor's Birthday" at the time, another national holiday.. He also never fought in May or June and only fought once in February, August and October. This means 8 fights came on two specific dates, whilst 5 months combined only had 3 fights!
Thailand is often an over-looked country when it comes to boxing stars, and figures from Thai boxing history are among the most over-looked. Part of that is the fact they rarely fight outside of Asia, the same problem that also limits the international attention of Japanese fighters, and part of the reason is that their records tend to be very padded and lack the quality to go with the quantity of their victories.
One such over-looked fighter is former WBA Super Flyweight champion Yokthai Sithoar (28-6-3, 17), who was born Manit Klinmee but is much better known by his fighting name.
Yokthai fought between 1994 and 2004 and racked up a 37 fight career that saw him take on some of the most notable men of the lower weights from his era. He beat Alimi Goitia for the WBA title in 1996, defended it against Satoshi Iida and Jesus "Kiki" Rojas, and later shared the ring with Hideki Todaka, Katsushige Kawashima, Akihiko Nago, Osamu Sato and Shoji Kimura.
Rather than sharing a full career synopsis here however, lets just take a brief look at the former Thai world champion, as we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Yokthai Sithoar
1-Yokthai was born on Christmas day 1974. Nothing more to add other than that Christmas is awesome as we all already know!
2-Prior to making a mark in professional boxing Yokthai had competed in Muay Thai, where he managed to create a bit of a buzz for his punching ability. His punches had earned the nickname of "Fist of the Hell Cyclone", which needs to go down as on eof the greatest names in sports history.
3-In terms of his boxing achievement's Yokthai was the first ever PABA Super Flyweight champion, winning the title on August 5th 1995, when he beat Russian fighter Ilshat Tukhvatullin in 10 rounds. He also managed 3 defenses of the title before moving on to the world level.
4-On August 24th 1996 Yokthai won the WBA Super Flyweight title, becoming the 8th man to hold the title. Before he lost the belt, less than 18 month later, he had amassed 4 defenses of the belt, the same as the previous 2 champions combined!
5-Following a 5 fight win-less streak from July 2003 to June 2004 Yokthai hung up his boxing gloves and turned his attention to MMA and kickboxing. Around 4 years after his last boxing bout he he participated in an exhibition bout at DEEP GLOVE 3 where he took on fellow former boxer Koji Arisawa, with the hope of moving into to K-1.
6-Yokthai's cousin is former kick boxer and MMA star Rambaa Somdet, widely regarded as one of the greatest Strawweights in MMA history.
7-In 2009 Yokthai married former MMA fighter and professional Hikaru Shinohara, with the two marrying on February 12th 2009 and having their first child together in November that year.
8-Following Yokthai's marriage to Hikaru Shinohara, the two went on to open up the Yokthai Gym, in Miyagi prefecture. The gym was set up to teach Muay Thai to children in the Japanese countryside and was set up with the right intention. Sadly however it was a financial victim of the Great East Japan Earthquake, in 2011, which saw the numbers of trainees drop dramatically, and forced Yokthai to take part time jobs to make ends meet.
9-In 2012 Yokthai was arrested after hitting his wife after arguing over money and living expenses. Despite the issues the two had they were seemingly still married in 2019 when they featured on a Fuji TV show together, with the gym still surviving at the time, albeit, just surviving.
10-Although fighting is obviously something Yokthai has enjoyed through his life, given his success in Muay Thai and boxing, and the fact he competed in MMA, losing at DEEP 50 IMPACT against Shinya Aoki, there is also a mellower side to Yokthai. That's seen in the fact that he has had a hobby of raising Betta Fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish.
When it comes to well known names from the history of Japanese boxing Hideki Todaka (21-4-1, 10) is not one such name. In fact most outside of Japan probably haven't ever heard of Todaka, or if they have it's likely the way he lost in a massive upset to Leo Gamez in 2000, with Gamez then becoming a 4 weight world champion. Sadly though the memory of Todaka should be a lot stronger than it is, as he really was a major player in boxing in Central Japan.
Todaka's career ran from 1994, when he debuted in a 4 rounder, to 2004, when he retired on the back of a loss to Julio Zarate. By that point he had won the Japanese Light Flyweight, WBA Super Flyweight and WBA "interim" Bantamweight titles and had beaten several noteworthy opponents, including Jesus "Kiki" Rojas, Akihiko Nago, Yokthai Sithoar and Leo Gamez.
Sadly though despite his solid achievements Todaka is still often over-looked. And with that in mind we felt he deserved the chance to be highlighted this week as we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Hideki Todaka
1-Todaka was born on March 16th 1973, a date that not many famous people were born on. Those that were include actor Tim Kang, who featured in the 2008 Rambo, Soprano's, The Office and the on going Magnum P.I. Remake as well as featuring in video games Mirror's Edge Catalyst and Prey.
2-In his third professional bout Todaka beat the then 5-0 Koji Fujiwara, inside a round. That contest was seen by legendary trainer Mack Kurihara, who was the trainer of Yasuei Yakushiji who headlined the show. Following the win Kurihara told Todaka he could become a champion. Several years later Todaka contacted Kurihara and began to trainer under the guidance of Kurihara.
3-Early in his career Todaka used 2pac's "Changes" as his ring walk music.
4-As with many Japanese fighters from outside of Tokyo, Todaka wasn't particularly well known in Japan when he got his first world title fight against Jesus Rojas in 1999. He was, at the time, regarded as a "local" boxer in Aichi, where he was based at the time fighting out of the Green Gym. Interestingly from his 26 bouts Todaka only had two in Tokyo, with bout taking place at the Kokugikan.
5-At the time of writing Todaka is the second, and so far final, man to have won a world title whilst fighting out of the Midori Gym in Nagoya City. He followed in the foot steps of fellow former WBA Super Flyweight champion Satoshi Iida, who was the star of the gym before Todaka's rise to the title. Prior to joining the Midori gym he had fought out of the Miyazaki World Gym, a very small local gym in Miyazaki Prefecture.
7-Sadly much of Todaka's career was plagued by injuries. He was said to be regularly injured in training and would also suffer a number of injuries in bouts. These included a broken hand, that resulted in him vacating the Japanese Light Flyweight title early in his career, and a badly fractured jaw in his 2000 upset loss to Leo Gamez, which kept him out of the ring for well over a year, as well as suffering Ophthalmoplegia heading in to that fight. He was also said to have back problems before he'd even turned professional. Given those injury problems, that genuinely plagued his career, it was really impressive that he went on to have the success he managed.
8-From our research Todaka is the only boxing world champion to have come from Miyazaki City. Whilst that sounds like an impressive feat it is worth noting that Miyazaki's population is rather small, and at the time of writing stands at around 400,000. That's a similar population to Arlington, Texas and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
9-Following his retirement from the sport Todaka opened the "Todaka Boxing Gym -STUDIO Bee-", where he is attempting to nurture the next generation of Japanese fighters.
10-Todaka is credited on Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi's 2007 album "Come on Stand up!", where he is given a "Special" thanks from Nagabuchi. Interestingly Todaka regularly used songs by Nagabuchi for his ring walk, including "Hold Your Last Chance", which Todaka credits for changing his life his loss to Leo Gamez.
Bonus fact 1 - Originally Todaka's team were in a discussion for him to face WBA "regular" champion Johnny Bredahl in early 2004. Sadly contracts didn't get sorted and instead Todaka lost to Zarate whilst Nobuaki Naka got a shot at Bredahl, with these bouts taking place exactly a week apart.
Bonsu fact 2 - Todaka currently serves a promoter, promoting shows under the banner of "The Greatest Boxing".
When we talk about forgotten men of Korean boxing Hyung Chul Lee (19-6, 15) is one of the names that needs to be mentioned. The heavy handed Super Flyweight fought between 1987 and 1996 and managed to win the WBA Super Flyweight title in a career that started terrible, got turned around, and so him becoming the toast of boxing in Korea, at least for a few months.
The very likeable Korean was a heavy handed fighter, with the typical Korean grit and determination and the type of man who had no fear of travelling abroad for major fights. In fact 4 of his 25 bouts took place in Japan including his career defining victory along with a loss that helped shape his career.
Fans who have seen some of Lee's bout, including his tremendous 1994 bout with Katsuya Onizuka, will know he could bring the action and be involved in some amazing contests, but other than than that not much is really remembered about him. With that in mind lets take a look at 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Hyung-Chul Lee!
1-Lee began boxing at the age of 15, and did so with the intention of making money, as he came from a poor family, and his father's business had failed.
2-As a professional fighter Lee began his career 1-3, meaning he suffered half of his career losses in his first 4 bouts. Interestingly he also suffered 2 losses in his last 2 bouts. In the rest of his career he went 18-1 (15), with his only loss during that stretch coming to the talented David Griman of Venezuela, then ranked #2 in the world by the WBA. On a similar note half of his losses came to fellow Korean's and the half also came to Venezuelans, with Griman accounting for one and Alimi Goitia accounting for the other two.
3-Despite losing to David Griman in 1990 Lee has spoke fondly about the contest, and how it helped build his confidence. At the time Griman was ranked #2 by the WBA and Lee legitimately gave him a run for his money and managed to cut Griman. Not bad for a 20 year old with a 7-3 (5) record who few gave any chance to. He explained to Boxmob in 2015 that that that loss was his most memorable bout.
4-In April 1994 Lee was scheduled to face Katsuya Onizkua, the then WBA Super Flyweight champion, but pulled out of the bout due to his father having cancer. As a result Onizuka faced Seung Koo Lee, who he beat via a controversial 12 round decision. Lee would then get a shot at Onizuka 5 months later, and upset the Japanese star, stopping him in 9 rounds in an absolute barn burner.
For those wondering Lee's father had successful cancer surgery before Lee and Onizuka did face off. Also worth noting is that Seung Koo Lee and Hyung Chul Lee often sparred together.
5-Going into that aforementioned bout with Onizuka, Lee had been promised a house if he won by one of his sponsors. Sadly for Lee the sponsor failed to deliver on that promise.
6-Sadly for Lee his reign was a short lived one, making just a single defense of the title when he stopped Tomonori Tamura 5 months after winning the title. Going into that bout Lee had a pretty severe injury in his right hand and needed an anaesthetic injection before the fight. Sadly for him the anaesthesia wore off around the 7th round, leaving him fighting in agony against a badly swollen Tamura. Sadly he lost the title just 5 months later, losing in a controversial bout against Alimi Goitia, that was horribly officiated by Armand Krief.
7-Although best known for his short reign as the WBA Super Flyweight champion it wasn't the only only honour that Lee took. Prior to winning the world title he had won the Korean national title, in 1991, and the Korean Rookie of the Year crown, in 1989.
8-Following his retirement from boxing Lee has had a number of jobs. These included running a coffee shop and later as a salesman for a pharmaceutical company.
9-As of January 2015 Lee had two children, a son who was 13 and a daughter who was 11. He was also married to a nurse
10-The fighter shares his name with a Korean Actor. The acting Hyung-Chul Lee has featured in Korean TV shows, Movies and even on stage, playing the role of Henry Higgins in a stage production of "My Fair Lady".
Between 1996 and 2016 we saw the career of Sutep Wangmuk, better known as Denkaosan Kaovichit (63-7-1, 26), unfold with some really notable success. The Thai was never a huge star of boxing, but he was a former WBA Flyweight champion and he scored a number of notable wins, including victories of Takefumio Sakata, Daiki Kameda and Nobuo Nashiro.
To begin his career Denkaosan got off to a great start winning his first 20 bouts, and was 48-1-1 at one point, but the later part of his career really wasn't great and he seemed to become a "name" for emerging fighters to get on their records in the later portion of his career.
Despite ending his career in under-whelming fashion Denkaosan is certainly an interesting fighter, and someone worthy of a bit more attention than he gets. With that in mind let us shine a light on him as we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Denkaosan Kaovichit
1-Denkaosan began fighting at the age of 12, where he took the Kaovichit name. Sadly however details regarding an amateur career are scarce, as are details regarding a Muay Thai career, though he did reportedly compete in Muay Thai before switching to "international boxing" a few years later.
2-Unlike many professional boxers Denkaosan debuted in a 12 rounder, in fact he actually won the PABA Flyweight title, via 12 round decision, on his debut. A genuinely impressive accomplishment, and one that is even more impressive when you realise that win came against the then GAB champion Melvin Magramo, from the Philippines. In fact the win aged really well as Magramo later went on to win the OPBF title. Amazingly he would compete in 51 total bouts for some form of PABA title, and 10 bouts for other titles, giving him 61 career title boutsin just 71 professional bouts!
3-Denkaosan, like many fighters, is religious and is actually a Muslim, which is somewhat rare in Thailand where Buddhism is the dominant religion, by a long way.
4-As with so many Thai fighters Denakosan fought with a number of sponsor names during his career. He is best known as "Kaovichit" but also fought as Denkaosan Singwancha and Denkaosan Kratingdaenggym. The WBA seemed to ignore the various name changes however, and consistently kept him as "Kaovichit". He also used a unique name, for one bout only, in 1997 against Todd Makelim. Sadly we've not been able to translate this one properly from the Thai, which is "ส.ท่าอิฐ".
5-Unlike many of the top Thai's Denkaosan did actually travel for a lot of his man fights. In fact he fought 10 of his 71 bouts on the road, and fought in 5 different countries. They were Thailand, Japan, USA, Panama and Australia. Among his bouts on the road he faced Eric Morel, Takefumi Sakata - twice, Daiki Kameda - twice, Luis Concepcion, Kohei Kono and TJ Doheny. For those curious, his record outside of Thailand was 2-7-1 whilst at home he went a perfect 61-0.
6-Despite having 71 fights, over a career that lasted around 20 years, Denkaosan only fought 3 times in August and December. For comparison his most common months for fighting were October and February, with 9 bouts in each of those months.
7-Denkaosan has, at least, 7 children!
8-Denkaosan officially announced his retirement in April 2016 after losing in Japan to Kazuki Tanaka. That was a third straight stoppage loss for the Thai, who was 1-4 in his previous 5, having been stopped in all 4 losses, and he had only scored 3 wins in the previous 3 years, with the only win of note being his split decision over Nobuo Nashiro.
9-Sadly, later in 2016, Denkaosan was hospitalised following an attack in Thailand that saw him almost have his left hand amputated. Details of the attack were unclear, though there was said to have been a dispute about a dog and a sharp instrument used against Denkaosan, reported to have been either a sword or a knife.
10-Denkaosan is one of a number of sports people born in August 23rd 1976. Others include 2-time World Championship bronze medal winning Judoka Edinanci Silva, from Brazil, former Chinese football player Han Wenxia, Olympic gold medal winner LaTasha Colander, who won the 4 x 400m relay with team US in 2000, and NBAgiant Pat Garrity, who was around 18" taller than Denkaosan!
Between 1970 and 1982 Japanese fighter Shoji Oguma (38-10-1, 20) put together one of the most confusing records in the sport. He suffered 10 losses in 49 fights, but fought more than 25% of his bouts fighting at the world level. Not only that but he was also a 2-time WBC Flyweight champion, and the linear champion in both of those reigns. He was also in the ring end of year rankings in 5 separate years, and was clearly one of the best Flyweights of his era.
Sadly however Oguma came around during a golden era for Flyweights and his competition reads like a who's who with bouts against the likes of Betulio Gonzalez, Miguel Canto, Alfonso Lopez, Sung Jun Kim, Chan Hee Park, Antonio Avelar and Jiro Watanabe, and fighting that type of competition as regularly as he did will lead to losses.
Rather doing a full career analysis here however we're going to take a look at some facts about the former 2-time champion we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Shoji Oguma!
1-Oguma share's his birthday with several interesting figures. These include guitarist Richard Bennett, who has performance alongside Niel Diamond, Mark Knopfler, Billy Joel and Barbara Streisand. As well as well as tragic former NFL player J. V. Cain and Patriarch Daniel of Romania.
2-Oguma went to the Fukushima Prefectural Koriyama Kita Technical High School. That's the same high school as manga artist Hidekazu Himaruya, who is best known for his webmanga series "Hetalia: Axis Powers" and Tsutomu Nihei, also a manga artist, known for work such as "Blame!" and "Knights of Sidonia". Nihei was also responsible for "Wolverine: Snikt!"
3-Although he was a southpaw Oguma was actually right handed. According to the JPBA this was actually due to his previous experience learning Kendo
4-During his career Oguma fought 49 times as a professional. Interestingly that included a 4 fight series with Betulio Gonzalez, trilogies with Chan Hee Park and Miguel Canto, and 2 fight series with Sung Jun Kim, Kazuo Aikawa and Masakuni Kawakami. So depite having 49 professional bouts he only fought 38 different fighters and more than 20% of his bouts were rematches.
5-The first fight between Oguma and Chan Hee Park ended up being a very rough and tough fight with the fans throwing things into the ring after Oguma tossed Park to the canvas. The commentary for the bout, which was actually provided in English, blamed referee Larry Nadayag for losing control of the bout. Reportedly there were armed police on high alert for the bout due to anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea at the time.
6-Oguma is the first, and only, world champion to have won a world title whilst fighting out of the Shin Nihon Boxing Gym in Nogata, The gym, which was established in 1961, has had a number of Japanese and OPBF champions, but no other world champion.
7-Oguma was named the The Ring magazine "Comeback of the Year fighter" for 1980. Interestingly this was the first time the award had been given out by Ring Magazine. Despite being the inaugural winner, Oguma was a worthy recipient, given 1980 was a genuinely brilliant year that saw Oguma reclaim the Flyweight title, with a win over Chan Hee Park, and defend the belt against Sung Jun Kim and Park in a rematch.
8-During his career Oguma had an amazing 8 world title challenges, going 2-5-1 during those shots. Despite having a losing record in world title challenges Oguma was success at world level, winning the WBC Flyweight title twice and amassing a total of 3 successful defenses. That takes his record in world title fights to 5-7-1.
9-Oguma was the temporary coach of Leopard Tamakuma in 1990, and helped lead him to a world title.
10-After retiring Oguma opened the Oguma Boxing Gym, in Saiitama Prefecture. Prior to opening the gym he had worked in waste disposal and had a business interest in Karaoka boxes.
Over the last few years female boxing has been receiving mainstream attention in the West with a growing number of female fighters getting chances to show what they can do in the Olympics as well as the US and UK. Female fighters like Katie Taylor, Claresa Shields, Mikaela Mayer and Seniesa Estrada have all managed to shine in big opportunities.
In the past however female boxing was mostly over-looked in the West meaning a lot of top female talent from the past ended up being pretty much left as historical footnotes to many fans. One such fighter was Naomi Togashi (10-1-1, 5), one of the first major female stars of Japanese boxing.
Today we're going to help shine a light on Togashi, her career and life in general as we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Naomi Togashi
1-Before turning to boxing Togashi was originally interesting in playing Volleyball, something she did when she was at High School
2-Sadly Togashi's father passed away when she was still a teenager.
3-Despite not picking up boxing until she was in her 20's Togashi managed to have genuine success in the unpaid ranks. She ran up a 16-4 record as an amateur, winning two All Japan titles along the way, before turning to professional boxing. Before turning professional she had hoped to compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which were expected to be the first Olmypics to have female boxing before those plans were scrapped.
4-Rather interestingly Togashi was class mates with Kayoko Ebata, a fellow fighter who also turned professional. The two women would bother make their names in the professional scene as fighters who fought out of the Watanabe Gym
5-As a fighter Togashi was given the nickname of "The Fighting Midwife". For those wondering, that was because she actually was a fighting midwife, and worked in a hospital in Tokyo. In fact to be even more specific she worked as a midwife at the NTT Medical Center in Tokyo. She qualified to become a midwife in 2001 after previously going to a nursing school
6-In 2011 Togashi released a book, with a title that translates as "Run! Midwife Boxer". The book is 218 pages long.
7-During her career Togashi really was a bit of a trend setting a key figure in the early adoption of female boxing in Japan, particularly with the JBC, who were very slow to recognise female boxing. She would go on to become the first ever world champion out of the Watanabe Gym, winning the WBC female Light Flyweight title in 2008, and she was also the first Japanese fighter to capture a world title on the road in 16 years, with Akinobu Hiranaka being the previous one in 1992! Winning the title in just her 4th professional bout saw her also setting a Japanese record, that still stands to this day! She was also the first Japanese female world champion to be recognised by the JBC.
8-Togashi is a big fan of Theatre and used the Lion King song "Circle of Life" as her ring walk music.
9-At Togashi's protest bout her mother admitted that she had objected to her daughter becoming a boxer. Though it was later reported that she travelled with Togashi, to Korea, for her world title win in 2008.
10-In her 12 fight career Togashi only had 3 bouts that weren't world title bouts, her first 3. Following that she had 9 straight world title contests, including a unification bout in 2009 with Etsuko Tada. With this stat she is one of the very, very few fighters to have fought 75% of her career at world level. Notably only one of her opponents had more losses than wins when she faced them. Staying with statistics Togashi fought 5 of her 12 bouts outside of Japan, including her first, her world title win, 2 successful defenses of the WBC female Light Flyweight title, and her final bout, at the age of 36!
Togashi is married to former fighter Yuji Takita, himself a former fighter at the Watanabe Gym!
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).