There are very few Mongolian fighters who have managed to connect with fans around the world. One of the few who has is the enigmatic Choi Tseveenpurev (36-7-1, 24), who fought between 1996 and 2014. During that time he managed to really connect with British fans and become a fan favourite among the hardcore fans in the UK.
Although he never won a world title Tseveenpurev managed to knock on the door a few times and shared the ring with some notable names, including Veeraphol Sahaprom, Lehlo Ledwaba, Derry Matthews and Daud Yordan. He also moved up in weight, beginning his career at Bantamweight and moving all the way up Lightweight at one point.
With that said, lets us bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Choi Tseveenpurev
1-Choi's family was nomadic, and he was brought up in the Mongolian mountains.
2-As a child Choi trained in boxing for about 18 months, before giving up the sport to go to college, and didn't have time to train in the sport any more.
3-After college Choi worked in a fire station, doing so in the early 1990's. He left the job, and told his colleagues he had got a new job. In fact he hadn't got anything lined up and left to chase his dreams of becoming an athlete. He was jobless for around 2 years after this decision.
4-Among the many inspirations for Choi to become a boxer was watching a Mike Tyson fight on Russian TV, and felt that he could use boxing to become well known and to show his power.
5-Although Choi was in his 20's when he began to really take the sport seriously he did manage to have a pretty notable amateur career. In the unpaid ranks he took home a Gold medal from 1994 Tammer Tournament in Finland, and a Bronze medal at the Seoul Box Cup in 1995. He also competed at the 1995 Asian Championships in Tashkent
6-Choi was a sparring partner for Lakva Sim, the first Mongolian to win a world title.
7-Choi has explained that his favourite opponent was Abdul Tebazalwa, a man he fought in 2007. It seemed like Choi saw a lot of familiarity with himself, with both men moving from relatively poor countries, Mongolia in Choi's case and Uganda for Tebazalwa, to Europe, with Choi living for years in England and Tebazalwa being based in Sweden.
8-During his 44 fight professional career Choi only fought once in Mongolia. He also fought in South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, China, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Singapore.
9-Rather interestingly Choi's only draw came in his very final bout, drawing with Hyun Sunwoo in South Korea. This bout was interesting for a few reasons. Not only was it his only draw but it also resulted in him having a 1-1-1 record in 6 round bouts that went to a decision and it took his career full circle, with his first and final bout coming in Korea. It was also his only scheduled 6 rounder not to take place in the UK, as the previous 8 hard!
10-Choi featured in a movie, called "Iron Monk".
When we think about Japanese fighters we typically think about lower weight fighters, who make their name at Featherweight or below. What's rather notable however is that there have been several Japanese fighters winning world title at Light Middleweight. One of those is the often forgotten Tadashi Mihara (24-1, 15).
The hard hitting Mihara made his debut in 1978 and fought through 1985 whilst racking up a solid and notable professional career. Although not too well remembered in the west he managed to have success as an amateur and as a professional, even winning a world title in the US in 1981.
The highlight of Mihara's career was obviously winning the WBA Light Middleweight title, defeating Rocky Fratto, though his reign was a short one, and he lost in his first defense, losing to Davey Moore.
Despite how short his reign was he was a notable fighter and today we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Tadashi Mihara
1-Mihara was born in Misato, Gunma. That town no longer exists, and in 2006 it was merged into the city of Takasaki. When it was merged the town had about 20,000 people living there, and Mihara was one of the very few notable figures from the town. Other notable figures from Misato include painter Kaoru Yamaguchi, sumo wrestler Kotonishiki Katsuhiro and tennis player Zenzo Shimizu
2-Mihara had an amateur record of 28-10 (15)
3-Only 1 of Mihara's bouts was scheduled for less than 10 rounds, with that being his 6 round debut. He would go on to feature in 10 bouts scheduled for 10 rounds, 7 bouts scheduled for 12 rounds and 2 bouts scheduled for 15 rounds
4-Mihara managed to win national, regional and world titles during his career. Strangely however the final of the titles for him to win was the Japanese. His first title was the OPBF title, won in his 5th bout, the second was the WBA title which he won in his 15th bout, and then the Japanese title, which he won in his 18th bout. For those interested all 3 titles were at Light Middleweight.
5-Having mentioned that Mihara won an OPBF title in his 5th professional bout it should be noted that this was a then Japanese record and stood as the record for 35 years. The record would be tied by Eiji Kojima, Akira Yaegashi and Naoya Inoue, before Kosei Tanaka broke it in 2014, winning the OPBF Minimumweight title in his 4th bout.
6-In 1981 Miahara won the Japanese fighter of the Year. Interestingly he won this award after Yoko Gushiken had won the award for 5 years in a row, and was followed by Jiro Watanabe, who won it every year from 1982 to 1985.
7-Mihara married the daughter of the then Chairman of the Misako gym, though did later get divorced from her
8-Mihara was the third Japanese fighter to win a world title at 154lbs, following Koichi Wajima and Masashi Kudo.
9-When Mihara won the WBA Light Middleweight title in 1981 in the US, beating Rocky Fratto, few would have expected a lengthy break for a Japanese champion to be crowned on foreign soil. Amazingly however it would take more than 10 years for another Japanese fighter to win a world title away from home, with Akinobu Hiranaka achieving the feat in Mexico in 1992. Amazingly it would take more than 30 years from Mihara's title win for the next Japanese fighter to win a world title in the US, with that being Masayuki Ito, who won the WBO Super Featherweight title in 2018!
10-Following his retirement he became a trainer at the Misako Gym
Although often a maligned fighter Kazakh boxer Beibut Shumenov (18-2, 12) is certainly a unique fighter. Unlike many he's never really fought to get out of poverty, or even needed to fight at all for money. Despite that he's had a hunger for the sport and succeeded in both the amateurs and professional ranks. He's also very highly educated, fought a world title fight without anyone working his corner and is a multi-weight world champion.
Shumenov certainly had the potential to have a better career in the sport, but in reality the fact he's in the sport is a strange one, and something he never needed to do. It was something he wanted to do, and something he did well in, proving that you don't need to be a hungry fighter to be a success. He was however a fighter who seemed to have a weird relationship with the WBA, and that often left a nasty taste in the mouth.
Today we're going to try and show just how strange Shumenov's career was as we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Beibut Shumenov
1-When Shumenov was young his father was an accountant, who worked for the government, and his mother was a teacher. Although not a "rich" family, they were certainly comfortable, much more so than the typical family of a boxer. At least until the downfall of the Soviet Union, at which point life did get harder for the Shumenov family, until they managed to embrace capitalism and became a genuinely wealthy family.
2-As a child Shumenov was accidentally poisoned by two of his aunts who gave him bad milk. This almost killed him as a child, and he needed a life saving IV in his skull to prevent his untimely death!
3-Not only did Shumenov almost die from poisoning but he had numerous other health issues as a child including a weakened immune system. As a result he was often ill though was inspired to do martial arts, including boxing, due to action movies featuring the great Bruce Lee.
4-Before he made a mark in boxing he studied law and worked as an assistant to a local judge.
5-In 2004 Shumenov was part of a successful Kazakh amateur team at the Asian Boxing Champions in Puerto Princesa, in the Philippines. The team picked up 3 golds, a silver and 3 bronze medals with Shumenov picking up one of the gold medals alongside Gennady Golovkin and Galib Jafarov.
6-After winning the WBA Light Heavyweight title in January 2010, in what felt like a truly awful decision over Gabriel Campillo, Shumenov would hold the title until April 2014, when he lost in a unification against Bernard Hopkins. That gives him a reign of 4 years and 3 months, though he some how only made 5 successful defenses of that title and took more than 18 months between defenses 4 and 5.
7-Rather surprisingly Shumenov was the first ever Kazakh to become a 2-weight world champion, having won both the WBA Light Heavyweight and Cruiserweight titles. Not only is this distinction pretty notable it's self, but it's also worth noting that he is one of the very few fighters to have won world titles at both 175lbs and Cruiserweight, a rather rare feat that few fighters manage to do due to the huge difference in allowed weight.
8-For much of his career Shumenov was actually also running his own promotional company alongside brother, with the two running KZ Event Productions In. The promotional arm was set up in Las Vegas, in 2007.
9-A movie about Shumenov was released in 2018 entitled "Несломленный", which translates as "Unbroken". The movie is a tale of Shumenov's life, and his battles to continue his career despite a number is medical issues affecting his career, particularly his eyes.
10-In 2019 Shumenov sold his Las Vegas home, for close to $5,000,000. The home was luxurious to say the least, with a reported 6 bed rooms, 9 bathrooms, a cinema, a wine cellar and an elevator!
Sometimes referred to as one of Japan's most forgotten world champions Leopard Tamakuma (27-5-1, 13) is not someone who immediately springs to mind when you talk about world champions or top Flyweights. Despite that the man from Aomori City was a very notable fighter during the 1980's and 1990's. His career often goes over-looked despite the fact he had success at every level of the pros, winning Rookie of the Year, Japanese national and world titles.
Despite being over-looked Tamakuma shouldn't be forgotten and with that in mind we want to bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Leopard Tamakuma!
1-When he first started boxing Tamakuma fought as an orthodox fighter, but within a year of him starting the sport he would turn southpaw.
2-As an amateur Tamakuma suffered a loss to future IBF Bantamweight champion Satoshi Shingaki. That was one of only 7 losses Tamakuma had whilst fighting in the unpaid ranks.
3-Tamakuma's regular ring walk music was "Something happened on the way to heaven" by Phil Collins.
4-Interestingly Tamakuma fought under his real name until 1984. His first bout as Leopard Tamakuma came in May 1984, when he fought Takahiro Masaki. The change was due to the traditions of the International Gym, who gave ranked fighters new ring names. Incidentally he actually suffered his first professional loss in the first bout he fought with his new ring name.
5-In 1990 Tamakuma won the WBA Flyweight title, stopping Yul Woo Lee. He would defend the belt, later that year, before being recognised as the Best fighter at the annual Japanese boxing awards and winning the boxing award at the Hochi Professional Sports Awards, becoming only the 7th boxer to receive that honour.
6-Tamakuma's first defense of the WBA Flyweight title, against Jesus Rojas in 1990, managed to be a ratings success, drawing 19.2% on NTV. Sadly however this would be Tamakuma's only successful defense, before he lost the belt to Elvis Alvarez in 1991
7-Talking about NTV the channel did a special on Tamakuma that was called "Leopard Tamakuma - miracle of glory". This showed not only some footage from Tamakuma's in ring career but also featured the man himself talking about the sport and his career, as well as those who were close to him during his career. This is something that is well worth a watch for those who can understand Japanese.
8-The bout with Alvarez sadly saw Tamakuma suffer a detached retina and essentially force the former WBA Flyweight champion into retirement, despite the fact he was still only in his 20's.
9-Following his retirement from the ring Tamakuma has stayed involved in boxing. To begin with he actually remained at the International gym, where he helped trained Celes Kobayashi and Prosper Matsura.
10-Tamakuma opened the Leopard Tamakuma Boxing Gym, his own gym, in November 1995
It's fair to say that many Teiken world champions are somewhat well known in the West, with fans recognising their names even if the fighters never managed to fight on US soil. Whilst most are known there are one of two lesser well known ones, such as former WBC Flyweight champion Toshiyuki Igarashi (23-3-3, 12).
Part of why Igarashi isn't too well known is that he's a lower weight fighter, and he only reigned as a world champion for 9 months. Despite his short career he is an interesting fighter and was a successful one, as both an amateur and a professional. He was actually a very good fighter, and when he turned professional there was serious expectations on his shoulders. Sadly his career failed to hit the heights expected of him but he shouldn't be forgotten. He won a world title, with the WBC and Linear Flyweight champion
With that in mind let us bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Toshiyuki Igarashi
1-As an amateur Igarashi scored over 70 wins, and went 4-0 against future professional foe Akira Yaegashi. There is some doubt over his actual record in the unpaid ranks, with record of 77-18 (16) and 72-11 both being reported by reliable sources, but it's accepted that he was was a very talented amateur.
2-Following on from fact 1 is the fact that Igarashi fought at the 2004 Athens Olympics, in fact the only member of the Japanese boxing team to attend the games.
3-When Igarashi made his professional debut in 2006 he was the first Japanese Olympian to turn pro since 1993, when Setsuo Segawa made his debut. Segawa had competed at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and continued in the amateurs for a while before heading to the pros. Rather notably Segawa was beaten in the Olympics by Bulgarian fighter Serafim Todorov, the man best known for beating Floyd Mayweather Jr at the 1996 Olympics.
4-From his 29 professional bouts Igarashi didn't actually fight in many venues, with 21 of his 29 bouts taking place at the Korakuen Hall. His other bouts took place at 7 different venues, only 2 of which were outside of Tokyo. What's more interesting is that from his 8 bouts outside of the "Holy Land" they all came on shows featuring world title bouts. They included 4 where he was involved in a world title bout, and 4 where he was on the under-card supporting a much bigger bout. These included Igarashi's second, fourth and 9th bouts.
5-In July 2012 Igarashi scored the biggest win of his career, as he out pointed Sonny Boy Jaro to claim the WBC Flyweight title. That win saw Igarashi become on the third Japanese Olympian to win a world title, following in the footsteps of Royal Kobayashi and Akinobu Hiranaka
6-Igarashi stated in an interview with Boxmob that he thinks he lost 4KG's to 5KG's from sweating in his bout with Sonny Boy Jaro, due in part to the heat of the venue.
7-When Igarashi retained the WBC Flyweight title, against Nestor Daniel Narvaes, he became the first Japanese Olympian to ever make a successful world title defense. That's something that neither Royal Kobyashi or Akinobu Hiranaka managed to do, with both of those two losing their world titles in their first defenses,
8-For the aforementioned bout bout with Narvaes there was a special introduction for Igarashi by Japanese musician Demon Kakka, AKA "His Excellency Demon". The introduction can be seen in the video below. There was also a special introduction done by the Demon Kakka for Igarashi's final bout, against Sho Kimura. Since 2012 Igarashi had been using the song "El Dorado" by Seikima II, the band that Demon Kakka was the vocalist for.
9-Igarashi's nicknames were "El Dorado", hence the name of the song he used, and "Super Sonic"
10-Away from the ring Igarashi has revealed he plays guitar as a hobby and has also performed in a band, where he was their drummer.
One of the most important fighters in Japanese boxing history is the charismatic Joichiro Tatsuyoshi (20-7-1, 14). His record, on paper, might not look like anything special but his career really was something else. He was the Japanese star of the 1990's, a multi-time world champion and the inspiration to a generation of Japanese fighters that followed him.
Although Tatsuyoshi suffered 7 losses in his 28 bout career he was involved in 10 world title bouts, 11 if you include an interim world title bout again Victor Rabanales, won a world title in his 8th bout and attracted a huge amount of fans to sport. His appeal to female fans was described, by some, as being similar to that of Oscar De La Hoya's impact in the US and he was an absolute star. Even now, more than a decade after his last bout, he gets an awful lot of attention from those reporting in the sport.
Today we are going to bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Joichiro Tatsuyoshi
1-As a teenager Tatsuyoshi was a talented amateur, running up a reported 18-1 (18) record. There was hope of him going to the 1988 Olympics but after missing out on the games, due to a loss in qualifying, he left the gym and reportedly spent around 6 months homeless, before meeting the woman that would later become his wife.
2-Tatsuyoshi admitted to being bullied as a child. Although he was bullied he did add that he had never not a school fight, though has been quoted as saying he never actually punched anyone properly in those school fights, instead hitting them with open palm slaps.
3-Tatsuyoshi often used the "Death Game" theme, from the as his ring walk music.
4-In 1987, years before making his professional debut Tatsuyoshi was used as a sparring partner by Azael Moran, who was putting final touches to his preparations to face Takuya Muguruma for the WBA Bantamweight title. Tatsuyoshi, then a teenager amateur, ended up embarrassing the then highly ranked Moran, and had the sparring cut short. In fact Moran was so badly embarrassed after 1 round that his team stopped the sparring.
5-Among many part time jobs that Tatsuyoshi had during his amateur career were jobs at a Udon restaurant and a Sauna
6-Following Tatsuyoshi's WBC Bantamweight title win against Greg Richardson the Japanese fighter had to spend a lengthy time away from the ring due to a retinal fissure. It was one of a host of problems he had with his eyes during his career.
7-Tatsuyoshi's father died in January 1999, at the age of 52.
8-Tatsuyoshi was named after Jo Yabuki, from anime Ashita No Joe. Interestingly he would be featured, in art form, in another major Japanese boxing work of fiction, being featured on the cover of Hajime No Ippo "Chapter 183", where he is also mentioned by name.
9-Tatsuyoshi has a very close relationship to Japanese actress Kayoko Kishimoto, with the two having a brother-sister like friendship. Although Kishimoto isn't well known in the west she is a very highly regarded actress in Japan, best supporting actress at the 23rd Japan Academy Prize for her role in Kikujiro (1999). She's also well known for her commercials from the 1980's.
10-Other people Tatsuyoshi is known to be friends with are baseball star Ichiro Suzuki and musician Tomoyasu Hotei, the man who did "Battle Without Honor or Humanity", aka the Kill Bill theme song.
One of the most notable Asian female fighters of all time was Momo Koseki (24-2-1, 9) who was the long ruling queen of the 102lb "Atomweight" division. Whilst female boxing is certainly not as high profile as male boxing it's still a part of boxing and Koseki's place in boxing history is a notable one.
Koseki managed to unify WBC and WBA titles, become a 2-weight champion, and was a world champion for more than 9 years! She might not be a big name, but she was certainly a successful fighter.
To try and shine a light on Koseki, we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Momo Koseki!
1-As an amateur Koseki went an excellent 20-2 (8), and won a trio of Japanese amateur titles.
2-Both of Koseki's defeats came in her first 5 bouts, losing in Thailand to Winyu Paradorn Gym and Samson Tor Buamas, before she went on an unbeaten 22 fight unbeaten. Interestingly both of these defeats came before the Japan Boxing Comission even recognised female boxing. As a result Koseki's record, as recognised by the JBC, is 20-0-1 (9).
3-Given her amateur experience, and future professional success, and prior professional experience in Thailand, it's hard to believe that originally Koseki failed her first pro-test, in which she was hoping to get a B License. Despite failing her pro-test she did manage to obtain a C Class license.
4-Koseki used the song "Southpaw" By Pink Lady as her entrance music.
5-Koseki's first world title win, over Winyu Paradorn Gym, was deemed highly controversial due to a headclash. The bout provisionally ruled a KO win for Koseki, pending a decision by the WBC. The WBC upheld the original result, though did order a rematch, which was supposed to be Koseki's second defense. Despite the WBC ordering the bout it never happened as Winyu would lose an interim bout and retire.
6-Koseki was the first, and so far only, Japanese female boxer to unify world titles. She did this when he unified the WBC and WBA Atomweight titles with her 2015 victory over Ayaka Miyao.
7-When Koseki retired she actually vacated world titles in two weight classes. She was the WBC champion at both Atomweight and Minimumweight. Whilst this isn't totally unheard of in boxing, it's, we believe, the only time a Japanese fighter has vacated multiple weight world titles at the same time.
8-With 17 defenses of the WBC Atomweight title to her name Koseki has the most title defenses of a world title by any Japanese fighter, male or female.
9-Koseki was a 2-time (2012, 2014) winner of the Women's Best Fighter Award at the Japanese annual awards, and also a 2-time winner for fight of the year (2015 Vs Ayaka Miyao and 2017 Vs Yuko Kuroki)
10-When Koseki retired from the sport she revealed she was wanting to become a physical therapist in her post-boxing life.
Japanese-American boxer Cassius Naito (27-10-2, 13) is not someone we expect too many fight fans in the west to be familiar with but his career is an interesting one that didn't just see him fighting but also going on to run a well respected gym.
The former Middleweight fought between 1968 and 1979 and was a decent southpaw who won the Japanese and OPBF Middleweight titles and during a career that was successful without every being too well regarded away from home. That was despite being a student of the legendary Eddie Townsend.
Whilst we understand Cassius Naito isn't a big name in the west he's a really interesting fighter to learn about, and with that in mind let us share 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Cassius Naito
1-Naito's mother was Japanese and his was father an American, called Robert Williams Jr. Sadly we've not been able to find the name of his mother.
2-Rather interestingly Naito's nicknames included the "Oriental Clay" and the "Japanese Clay", taking the idea from American boxing legend "Cassius Clay". Yes you read that right, Cassius Naito's nickname was inspired by Greatest of All Time. Cassius Clay was also the reason that Naito adopted the Cassius name as well, due to Clay. He adopted "Cassius" in 1969 around the time of his win over John Aguon.
3-Prior to adopting the "Cassius" part of his name Naito fought under his birth name of Junichi Naito
4-Naito was the inspiration for the Alice song "Champion"
5-In 2004 Naito was diagnosed with pharyngeal cancer. He turned down surgery, though did have other treatment. He was later able to open the E&J Cassius Boxing Gym 8 months after being discharged from hospital, around a year after announcing he was suffering from cancer and on the anniversary of Eddie Townsend's death.
6-Whilst Naito never got anywhere close to a world title fight of his own it's interesting to note he went 0-7 against fighters who did win world titles and he fought 4 men who did win world titles. These were Jae Doo Yuh, who Naito lost to 4 times, Koichi Wajima, Masashi Kudo and Chong Pal Park.
7-Naito setting up a gym was, in part, to keep a promise he had made earlier in his career. When he returned to boxing after a multi-year hiatus he promised Eddie Townsend two things, one was to become a champion and the other was to open a gym in the future and train the younger generation, something he is now doing.
8-Due to circumstances outside of his control Naito didn't get the chance to take part in a retirement ceremony when he retired. As a result he actually had his retirement ceremony in 2006, more than 25 years after his actual retirement
9-In 2007 the Naito Gym recieved numerous phone calls regarding the controversial Daisuke Naito Vs Daiki Kameda bout. Cassius, and gym staff, had to explain that Daisuke Naito wasn't connected to gym at all, and that there was blood relationship between Cassius and Daisuke.
10-Whilst Cassius Naito is not related to Daisuke Naito he is related to two other boxers. They are Rikki and Mirai Naito, his two boxing sons.
The WBC Super Flyweight title has had a lot of attention in recent years thanks to the likes of Carlos Cuadras, Roman Gonzalez, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Juan Francisco Estrada all holding the title and fighting for it in front of a US audience. Before those men had their reigns the title was held by the often forgotten Yota Sato (26-3-1, 12).
Sato's reign with the WBC title was a short one, in the early 2010's but his personality, style and and out of the ring activities certainly makes him an interesting character. His in ring career may have only lasted for 9 years, and he was only 29 when he retired, but he's still a figure that we find intriguing. His style wasn't the most fun to watch but it was effective and lead to him scoring wins against the likes of Kohei Kono, Kenji Oba, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Silvester Lopez and Ryo Akaho.
With that said let us bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know... Yota Sato
1-Whilst "Yota Sato" is his real name, unlike with some fighters, the Sato is actually an adopted surname. He took the name from his grandmother's friend
2-Sato dropped out of the Tohoku Gakuin University in Sendai.
3-As an amateur Sato went 22-10 (2), including 2 losses to Toshiyuki Igarashi. He chose not to remain an amateur foe a prolonged period as he felt that amateur conventions didn't suit him as a person.
4-In August 2011 Sato was supposed to unify the Japanese Super Flyweight title with the OPBF title held by Ryo Akaho. This bout fell through when Akaho suffered an injury as a result Sato fought Yoshihito Ishizaki. In 2012 Sato would finally face Akaho, with Sato defending the WBC Super Flyweight title against his countryman.
5-A day after winning the WBC Super Flyweight title Sato was stopped by a police officer wanting to know what he did for a job. He was sporting a heavily swollen and bruised face at the time and had a spanner in a rucksack, leading the police officer to question him for around 10 minutes before letting him go on his way...to the press conference to talk about his win over Suriyan Sor Rungvisai a day earlier.
6-Even after winning the WBC Super Flyweight world title Sato continued to work at a gas station. The fighter had been working there since his teens, being paid ￥1000 per hour and he had revealed in interviews than he genuinely loved working there and was proud of being given the responsibility he had there.
7-Sato's reign as the WBC Super Flyweight champion came to an end in May 2013, when he travelled to Thailand and was stopped in 8 rounds by the then unknown Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. That loss would lead to Srisaket's first reign, and his less well remembered one. Srisaket's second reign would famously start when he ended the long unbeaten run of Roman Gonzalez in a massive upset in 2017. The loss to Srisaket would not only end Sato's reign but also his in ring career. He would announced his retirement in June 2013, and then return to the ring for his retirement exhibition on November 20th with former opponent Kohei Kono at Korakuen Hall
8-We mentioned that Sato had a spanner with him when he was questioned by the police after his title win, that was actually with him for skateboard maintenance. He's a really big skateboarder.
9-Outside of the ring not only does Sato spend his spare time skateboarding he also has pets. In 2012 he revealed he had bought himself a Tortoise to add to the fish, turtles, reptiles and lizards that he already had.
10-In 2014 Sato became the manager of a restaurant.
Last week we spoke about Korean fighter Young Kyun Park in this series, and this week we'll discuss a man he fought, Koji Matsumoto (26-6-1, 15). Although he never became a world champion Matsumoto is an interesting individual who challenged for world titles in the 1990's, and then retired but remained a notable figure within the sport. Even now he's someone who continues to cultivate talent within Japan and is very highly regarded within the sport.
Of course this series is the 10 facts you probably didn't know about..., series and today we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Koji Matsumoto, someone you really should get to know, as his role in boxing isn't going to end any time soon.
1-Matsumoto is a second generation fighter. His father, Hiroshi Matusmoto was himself a semi-successful fighter who won the East Japan Rookie of the Year at Welterweight in 1957. Hiroshi's full record isn't available on Boxrec but the excellent http://fanblogs.jp/boxingmeikan report that Matsumoto senior went 6-4 (2).
2-As an amateur Matsumoto racked up a 37-6 (21) record.
3-Matsumoto went to the same high school and University as Yuichi Kasai, himself a former fighter. In fact they both dropped out of University and debuted in the same year. Both have now gone on to have very well respected careers as trainer after losing in 3 world title bouts. The two are close friends and Matsumoto has helped out at Kasai's GLOVES gym in Tokyo.
4-Matsumoto boxed out of the legendary Yonekura Gym. For those who don't follow the Japanese gym scene, that's the same gym that brought us world champions like Kuniaki Shibata, Guts Ishimatsu, Shigeo Nakajima, Hideyuki Ohashi and Hiroshi Kawashima.
5-After losing to Young Kyun Park, in a WBA Featherweight world title bout, the two men developed a solid friendship, and Park has been over to Japan in recent years to see bouts on the invitation of Matsumoto. Park revealed that Matsumoto treats him like a brother and is the only fighter he fought who is still in contact with him.
6-More than half of Matsumoto's career was spent in title bouts. He fought 33 professional bouts with 17 title contests. They included 3 world title bouts, 1 OPBF title bout and 13 bouts for the Japanese Featherweight title. His overall record in these bouts was 12-5.
7-Since retiring from in ring participation Matsumoto has become a trainer at the Ohashi Gym, linking up with former Yonekura Gym mate Hideyuki Ohashi. Since being a trainer he has worked heavily with Akira Yaegashi, Satoshi Hosono and Katsushige Kawashima.
8-In 2004 Matsumoto won the Eddie Townsend award for his work as a trainer. At the time he was the youngest trainer to win the award.
9-Matsumoto has released two DVD's, which are available on Amazon.jp. They are focused on training in boxing, as opposed to some of the fitness DVD's released. Interestingly fellow Yonekura gym fighter Hiroshi Kawashima has also released his own boxing DVD, with his focused on defense.
10-The Matsumoto boxing name is set to continue with a third generation fighter, as Koji's son Keisuke Matsumoto turned professional in 2020, joining the Ohashi Gym where he will continue to be trained by Koji.
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).