When we talk about relatively forgotten recent fighters Japanese Light Flyweight Yuki Chinen (14-2, 7) rarely gets mentioned, despite being a genuine notable Japanese fighter between 2008 and 2014. With him being a bit of a forgotten fighter we felt he was the perfect fighter to shine a little bit of a light on. With that in mind let us bring you 5 mid weeks facts about Yuki Chinen.
1-Before turning to boxing Chinen worked for a used car company, which was run by his father. It was due to the free time he had at work that he actually walked into the Ryukyu Gym, where he began to box.
2-Chinen took up the sport to kill time and even when he was making a bit of a name for himself he wasn't looking to win titles. In fact when he achieved his crowing success, winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2009, he still didn't have any desire to win titles, something that was regarded as unique by his then trainer. After winning Rookie of the Year Chinen was actually unsure if he even wanted to continue being a professional fighter, which was also rather peculiar.
3-Early in his career Chinen was dubbed "Gushiken II". In part that was due to Chinen fighting at Light Flyweight, the same division that Yoko Gushiken made his name at in his prime and partly due to the fact Chinen was fighting out of Okinawa.
4-On April 3rd 2013 Chinen clashed with Ryoichi Taguchi for the Japanese Light Flyweight title, at Dangan 69. Going into the fight the two men were both world ranked, with Taguchi ranked #6 and Chinen ranked #14. Going into that bout the winner knew they'd have to defend the belt against the winner of a bout between Naoya Inoue and Yuki Sano, who clashed less than 2 weeks later. Interestingly Chinen is also on of the very, very few fighters that Taguchi fought who was actually taller than him!
5-Chinen was 12-0 in bouts scheduled for fewer than 10 rounds, and went 2-2 in bouts for 10. Though in fairness his two losses did both come to future world champions. The first of those was the aforementioned Ryoichi Taguchi and the second was Yu Kimura. Incidentally they both came in Japanese title fighters, and it meant that Chinen never did manage to win a title belt during his career.
We all like knockouts and we all love watching a punching in action, and for this week's mid-week fact article we've decided to look at a true KO artist from the Japanese domestic scene!
The man in question is former Japanese Middleweight champion Tomohiro Ebisu (17-5, 17), who never needed the judges to help him get a win as 17 of his professional wins were by stoppage. His career was relatively short, running from 2008 to 2017, but it was a thrilling one, whether Ebisu was winning or losing!
With that introduction out of the way here we bring you 5 Midweek Facts about Tomohiro Ebisu!
1-As an amateur Ebisu went 17-7 (10), and won a National Sports title in 2006. The enxt major achievement of his career was winning the All Japan Rookie of the Year in 2009.
2-During his in ring career Ebisu was not just fighting out of the Yokohama Hikari Gym but working there too! He was there working as a fitness instructor at the gym.
3-On December 24th 2016 Ebisu became the first, and so far only, man to hold the interim version of the Japanese Middleweight title, thanks to a thrilling win over Makoto Fuchigami. For fans wanting to enjoy a fantastic fight we've included this below thanks to A-Sign Boxing.
4-Ebisu's retirement came in the same month as fellow Yokohama Hikari Gym fight fighter Daiki Kaneko, who has previously challenged Takashi Uchiyama. This saw Ebisu and Kaneko both hanging up the gloves in September 2017.
5-Due to Ebisu's power and weak chin his first 21 bouts all ended early, with 17 wins by stoppage and 4 losses by stoppage. In total those 21 bouts lasted just 77 rounds, around 3.6 rounds each. Amazingly he only went the distance in his final career bout, a decision loss to Hikaru Nishida in 2017 in a Japanese Middleweight title bout. Amazingly 12 of his 22 career bouts never even got beyond round 3
When we discuss the most talented Filipino fighters of the last couple of decades to never win a world title then we need to mention Z Gorres (31-2-2, 17), a talented yet tragic figure in the world of boxing.
Gorres is probably best known for one of 3 fights. His close and controversial loss to Fernando Montiel, his controversial draw with Vic Darchinyan and his career ending bout with Luis Melendez. At one point he was part of a very promising trio from ALA, alongside Rey Bautista and AJ Banal, and was the most talented of the trio. Sadly though he, like the other two, failed to win a world title.
We're not here fo a biography however and instead we're here to bring you 5 Midweek facts about Z Gorres!
1-Gorres fought in the US 5 times, winning all 5 of those bouts. The first of those saw him knocking out Glenn Donaire, the brother of Nonito Donaire, inside a round and another was a TKO win over former world champion Eric Lopez. The final US bout was his tragic win over Luis Melendez, which ended with Gorres collapsing and later suffering a career ending brain injury.
2-Gorres' brother, Jun Gorres, was stabbed in a street fight, and sadly passed away from the injuries he suffered. Jun in his early 30's and had been a former boxer himself, running up a good record of 25-3-1 (22).
3-After his career ending injury Gorres' medical costs at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas reportedly went over $600,000. This actually lead to legal students pushing for more insurance for fighters, who suffer injuries in the ring. At the time it happened the insurance only covered up to $50,000.
4-In 2010, at the 28th Cebu Sports Awards, Gorres received the Presidential Award. He shocked the other attendees by climbing out of his wheel chair to receive the award. Antonio Lopez Aldeguer, stated that he had a 5 page script that he hoped to read to inspire the audience but admitted that he couldn't inspire in the way that Gorres, getting to his feet at the event had.
5-Gorres got divorced in 2015, something he described in 2018 as being difficult in an interview with Spin.PH.
For this week's fact piece we've decided take a look at the often forgotten Michael Domingo (42-18-3, 23), a talented, highly capable Filipino who's record really isn't an accurate reflection of his talent and ability. Like many Filipino fighters he was given tough fights early on, had to travel for bouts and fought on short notice, resulting in a lot of early losses. Despite that he carved out a very solid career that saw him coming within touching distance of a world title fight before his career came to an end.
Dubbed "Bruce Lee" the skilled Domingo fought between 1999 and 2012 shared the ring with a number of notable names. Among those were the likes of Jimrex Jaca, Sod Looknongyangtoy, Somsak Sithchatchawal, Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym, Rolly Lunas, Miguel Roman, Jose Navarro and Vusi Malinga.
Although not the biggest name in Filipino boxing he will go down as one of the country's most over-looked fighters and a man who deserves a lot more attention and time. With that in mind lets take a look at some mid-week facts around Domingo!
1-During his in ring career Domingo was a well travelled fighter. He not only fought in the Philippines but also Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, France, the USA and South Africa. His form on the road was rather startling and mixed. In Thailand he went win-less, going 0-5, in Japan he was was also win-less, going 0-5-1, whilst in France and South Africa he went 0-1. Yet he was unbeaten in South Korea, 2-0, Indonesia 3-0, and the US, 1-0
2-Domingo fought on his 24th birthday! Not only did he fight on his birthday, on August 23rd 2003, but he also took a win, scoring a 3rd round KO win over the previously unbeaten Jake Verano.
3-Unlike most fighters who move up through the weights Domingo actually moved down the weights, quite significantly in fact. His debut was at Lightweight, and just 4 months later he had dropped 18lbs and was fighting at Bantamweight, which was arguably the weight he was best suited at. Sadly though the talented Filipino struggled to get regular Bantamweight fights and would regularly fight at Super Bantamweight in his prime, including his career defining upset win over Miguel Roman in 2007.
4-Following his retirement from in ring competition Domingo went on to become a trainer at the ALA Gym. Among the fighters he was responsible for included Merlito Sabillo and Jimmy Paypa.
5-The Domingo name lives on in the sport with Michael's nephew Esneth Domingo being a very promising youngster himself.
Extra Fact - In 2008 Domingo had a bout with world ranked fighter Nestor Rocha called off after having a test showing he had Hepatitis B. He would be cleared to fight again just a few months later when he was tested in the Philippines. The result of Domingo being pulled from that bout saw Rocha take a win over journeyman Oscar Andrade before getting a WBC world title fight with Hozumi Hasegawa in 2009.
We suspect that fans who follow the Japanese scene will recognise the name "Teraji", afterall it's the surname of the talented Kenshiro Teraji. One thing some fans may not recognise is that Kenshiro's father, Hisashi Teraji, was himself a talented fighter who fought between 1989 and 2000. In fact fans who have seen Kenshiro in action will likely have spotted a very, very tall man with him, that's actually Hisashi, who towers over his son and stands at around 6'2".
As professional Teraji ran up a solid record of 20-1-3 (11), with his only loss coming to future world champion Shinji Takehara, and his 3 draws coming in his first 6 bouts, leaving him 3-0-3 record at one point. Despite his final professional bout coming in 2000, he actually retired in October 2001 on the back of a 14 fight winning run. Among the fighters beaten by Teraji during that streak were were Biney Martin, who's currently a referee in Japan, and 2-time world title challenger Yoshinori Nishizawa.
With that introduction, and maybe a few extra facts out of the way, lets us bring you 5 midweeks facts about Hisashi Teraji!
1-Sadly Teraji's father died when he was a child, and he was brought up by his mother in a single parent family.
2-As an amateur Teraji went a reported 49-3 (25), and was regarded as a quick and technical and quick fighter in the unpaid ranks, a style not typically seen of bigger fighters in Japan. Reportedly he didn't take the sport up until he was in University, suggesting he was a pretty natural talent, and that that talent was helped by his freakish size.
3-As a professional Teraji made his debut at Light Middleweight, where he must have looked like a giant. He would win two titles, the Japanese Middleweight title , winning it in his 4th shot at the belt, and the OPBF Light Heavyweight title, becoming the first Japanese fighter to hold that title.
4-After retiring Teraji owned a cleaning business, that helped clean offices and condo's. That would later become BMB Clean Service. He also owns and runs the BMB Boxing Gym. For those curios, BMB stands for Body, Mind and Beauty.
5-Also after his retirement, Teraji has ran for office and in 2003 and in 2007 he was elected to the city council for Jōyō City, in Kyoto. After serving two terms he was beaten in 2011, denying him a third successive term.
For today's mid-week facts we decided to pick someone pretty obscure, and as a result have selected the relatively unheralded Mitsuru Sugiya (28-5, 21). We don't expect anyone outside of Japan to be familiar with him, though there is actually some pretty neat facts about him out there.
Before we get to the facts we'll just share general information on Sugiya, who fought from 1981 to 1989 and changed gyms a number of times during career. His career isn't a huge well known one, but he did have success at domestic level and got a shot at a world title late in his career. Despite having a career that spanned most of the 1980's he was only 25 when he retired, though had fit plenty into his short career. This included being Japanese Featherweight champion, several times, and winning the East Japan Rookie of the Year.
1-As a professional fighter Sugiya managed to win the East Japan Rookie of the Year, but lost in the All Japan Final, losing a close decision to future world champion Takuya Muguruma. Interestingly Muguruma would go on to win the WBA Bantamweight title and challenger for the WBA Super Bantamweight title whilst Sugiya would, in 1989, fight for the WBA Featherweight title, losing to the brilliant Antonio Esparragoza.
2-Rather oddly Sugiya lost the Japanese Featherweight title in a non-title bout! He lost the belt when he lost to a decision to the then 2-0 Lion Ari in 1987. The rules dictated that if a champion lost in a bout at their weight in Japan they would be stripped of the title. Following this title loss he won the vacant title back, to become a 3-time champion!
3-Mitsuru Sugiya wasn't the only member of the family to be a boxer. His older brother, Minoru Sugiya, was also a successful fighter. As a fighter on the Japanese domestic scene Minoru Sugiya managed to win the Japanese Light Welterweight title, though sadly lost it in his first defense just 4 months after winning it.
4-Sports runs in the family! Not only was Mitsuru Sugiya's brother a boxer, but Mitsuru's second son is a professional baseball player! Kenshi Sugiya is a talented baseball player who has played for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.
5-After retiring from in ring competition Sugiya went on to become a trainer at the Shirai Gushiken Sports Gym, run by Yoko Gushiken.
It's fair to say that not all fighters we cover in this series are made equal and Ki Yun Song is among the more obscure fighters to be covered in our 5 Midweek Facts series. Saying that however he does deserve a lot more attention that he's maybe had. In fact we suspect very few people know much about him, so with that in mind lets learn something about Song before look at the 5 facts.
Korean fighter Song only had a very short professional career, fighting 12 times and running up a 7-3-2 (4) between 1988 and 1993. Despite the briefness of his career it shouldn't be ignored as he did a lot within that short time frame. In fact he managed to win national Oriental titles, turned a bizarre start to his career around and challenged for a world title in the US. In just 12 bouts he did more than most fighters do in 25.
After turning professional in 1988 Song would win just 1 of his first 5 bouts. In fact when he celebrated the first anniversary of his debut he was 1-2-2 (1) but would turned that round and reel off 6 straight wins to land a world title fight in the US against the then WBA Middleweight title bout. That would be his final bout though by then he had achieved more than most fighters will.
With that now said, lets look at 5 Midweek Facts about Ki Yun Song.
1-Prior to making his professional debut Song was regarded as a very talented amateur fighter. Sadly it's hard to find any record of what he did as an amateur, though some Korean websites state he was part of a Korean team at the 1986 Asian Games.
2-According to Korean sources Song had "chronic hepatitis". This makes his boxing career even more notable, even if, as mentioned, it wasn't a particularly long one.
3-We mentioned that Song was 1-2-2 after his first 5 bouts. Interestingly he avenged those first 2 losses, beating both Jun Shik Park and Sung In Lee by decision, in 10 round rematches. He didn't however, rematch either of his draws.
4-Song's final career bout was a world title bout with the then WBA Middleweight champion Reggie Johnson. The bout was promoted as "East meets West", with some special t-shirts designed selling the bout on that basis. It was also the first world title bout to be held in the state of Idaho and took place on a Tuesday. Sadly with Song's loss to Reggie Johnson Korean boxers fell to 0-20 in WBA and WBC world title bouts in the US.
5-In 2015 Song was still involved in boxing, and was training fighters in Incheon. He was hoping to help bring through the next generation of Korean youngsters.
The name Tiger Ari (61-7-3, 28) is one that won't resonate at all with fans who don't follow the Asian scene. In fact we suspect some may even be thinking about Tiger Ali Singh, the wrestler, rather than Tiger Ari the boxer. Despite that Ari was actually a really notable fighter back in the 1980's, 90's and early 2000's.
During a remarkable 71 fight career Ari fought in 7 countries, was a 2-time GAB champion and a 2-time OPBF champion. His career, which stretched from 1984 to 2003, saw him share the ring with fighters as diverse as Samart Payakaroon and Cassius Baloyi.
We're not here for a career synopsis on Tiger Ari, but instead the latest 5 Midweeks facts, which this is 5 Midweeks facts about Tiger Ari.
1-Ari's real name is Eder Olivetti. He was named after Brazilian boxing great Eder Jofre. He would however go by the name Tiger Ari due to a relationship with manager Ruben Ortiz, who's company was called Ari Industries Manila. The name stuck, even after Ari left Ortiz. The only real exceptiosn to that were when he was fighting out of Japan, where he fought as "Tiger Asakura".
2-Ali is one of 8 children, several of which were also boxers. These include notable fighters Dino Olivetti, who fought from 1993 to 2003 and Lion Ari, who fought from 1987 to 1992.
3-We mentioned Ari's brothers but it's worth noting that he isn't first generation of the family to fight there was Oscar Reyes, Tiger's father. Interestingly Reyes was a former OPBF Super Featherweight champion himself making him and Tiger one of the rare father-son duo's to have held OPBF titles.
4-Ari was trained by former Flyweight world champion Erbito Salavarria, who held both the WBA and WBC Flyweight titles during his long, successful, and often over-looked career. Salavarria's guidance is said to have helped Ari become an intelligent fighter, whilst another of his trainers was Nestor Angel.
5-Following his retirement Ari has remained in the sport and has helped trained Juiki Tatsuyoshi, notably being Tatsuyoshi's corner for his professional debut in 2015.
We're in the middle of another week and it gives us another chance to shine a light on one of the many forgotten figures of Asian boxing. This time we're going to look at former 3-time world title challenger Yuichi Kasai.
Although not too well known in the West Kasai was a major figure in the Super Bantamweight division. He won the Japanese and OPBF titles and challenged 3 times for the WBA title, losing to Wilfredo Vazquez in 1994 and Antonio Cermeno, in 1996 and 1997. Despite finishing his career in 1997 Kasai has remained a notable figure in Japanese boxing, though has essentially left professional to focus on other things in recent years.
With that all said, let us bring you 5 Midweek Facts about Yuichi Kasai.
1-As an amateur Kasai amassed a fantastic record of 44-4 (24) and was runner up in the 1987 National Sports competition and the winner of the 1987 High School Championship.
2-Kasai went to the same high school, and was in the same year as, fellow fighter Koji Matsumoto. Interestingly they both went to the same university, both dropped out in the same and both went on to become not only world title challengers but also top trainers.
3-Given the reputation of Japanese fighters not fighting away from home it's worth noting that 9 of Kasai's 29 professional bouts took place outside of Japan. These included 7 bouts in the US and 2 bouts in Venezuela. During those 7 bouts he went 5-2, losing in Venezuela to Ramon Guzman and in the US to Antonio Cermeno, who also travelled to Japan and beat Kasai in what was Kasai's final bout.
4-After retiring from in ring competition Kasai became a trainer at the Teiken gym, where he went on to receive the Eddie Townsend Award, essentially the Japanese Trainer of the Year award. During his time at Teiken he trained the likes of Toshiaki Nishioka, Takashi Miura, Toshiyuki Igarashi and Akifumi Shimoda. Incidentally Koji Matsumoto also won the Eddie Townsend award, though did it as a trainer at the Ohashi Gym.
5-In 2017 Kasai left his role as a trainer at Teiken and set up his own gym, the GLOVES gym. The gym is a boxing fitness gym, and encourages people to get healthy through community based boxing activities, promotes boxing the wonders of boxing, and welcomes everyone, regardless of age and gender.
Whilst doing some research for something else back in 2020 we stumbled on Shigeji Kaneko's name and after a little bit of research on Kaneko we decided, one day, that we would look into his career and life and try to shine a light on him. Whilst it's taken us a while to do that, we're glad to finally talk about Kaneko, at long last.
Although not a big name Kaneko was a notable fighter in the 1950's, fighting from 1950 to 1958. During that time he amassed a very impressive 51-10-1 (31) record, had scored a number of big wins and was very much a key Featherweight player of the era. He never fought for a world title, but did share the ring with several legends of the sport.
With that introduction out of the way, let us bring you the latest in the 5 Midweek Facts series by looking at Shigeji Kaneko, and his life and career!
1-Kaneko's nickname was the fantastic "Enchanted puncher"
2-As a fighter Kaneko was genuinely a distinguished boxer. He not only won the OPBF Featherweight title, becoming the first Japanese fighter to win an OPBF title, but also won the Distinguished Prize award in 1953, the Fighting Spirit Award in 1954 and was a 2-time Japanese Best Fighter award winner, in 1955 and 1956. Impressively he proved his ability against legendary Filipino Flash Elorde, going 4-0 against Elorde. In 2003 was honoured in the Philippines by being awarded the Gabriel "Flash" Elorde Memorial Trophy.
3-Sadly Kaneko's career to an end when he was only 27. That was due to a retinal detachment that forced him to leave the sport following a win over Saburo Otaki in November 1958.
4-Following his retirement from in ring activity Kaneko worked as a trainer before opening up the Kaneko gym, which is still running today. The gym was passed on to his eldest sons in 2004, with one son being the chairman and another being a manager and trainer. Early on the gym was best known for guiding Eijiro Murata to 4 world title fights, and would also guide the likes of Kevin Palmer and Kenji Iwata. In recent years it's also been the gym in charge of Hidenori Otake in recent years.
5-Kaneko passed away in early 2016. Whilst it's reported in the West that his death was down to pneumonia it seems likely that his pneumonia was caused by progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), which is what Japanese news sources reported was his cause of death.
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).