To many international fans the first major Korean fighter to make a name for himself was Ki Soo Kim, the first Korean to win a world title. For Korean fans however Kim wasn't the first boxing star, that was an honour held by Se Chul Kang (who has a reported record of 15-18-2, 7), a man who would actually lose to Kim 3 times during his career!
Kang was a genuine star in Korea and fought as a professional between 1953 and 1966, fighting 35 bouts and having some mixed success in the ring, along with a lot of scandals outside of it. Despite some issues in his personal life Kang was a major player in Korean boxing. In fact when he died in 2007 Kang was described by Bo Young Hang, the then vice chairman of the Korean Boxing Committee, as "The deceased was the most important person in the early days of professional boxing in Korea".
With that in mind lets take a look at what made Kang so important to Korea boxing in the 1950's and 1960's.
1-Kang began boxing in the 1940's, as a teenager, and trained alongside Kwon No Kap, who would later become a notable Korean politician and be involved in financial scandals at the turn of the millennium.
2-In 1957 Kang won a Korean national title, but it wasn't until 1960 that he became a star. That happened in November 1960 when he won the OPBF Light Middleweight title. This win saw him become not just the inaugural OPBF champion at the weight, but also the first Korean to win an OPBF title, in any weight class. This bout was said to have drawn a huge crowd, with more than 10,000 fans in attendance at a baseball stadium to see Kang become the Oriental champion.
3-In 1965 there was a request from the JBC to suspend Kang due to an issue where Kang had violated a contract. He was scheduled to fight in Tokyo, had been paid money before the fight and then failed to turn up. This was reportedly the second time he had done this.
Interestingly prior to these issues Kang had challenged for the Japanese Welterweight title, back in 1958, losing to Jiro Takada. This bout is recognised as a successful defense for Takada despite the fact Kang wasn't a Japanese fighter.
4-Se Chul Kang wasn't the only successful boxer in the the family. In fact after he retired his son, Hubert Kang, went on to become a very successful fighter himself. In fact Hubert Kang was one of the most notable Korean fighters of the 1960's and 1970's becoming a huge star in Korea and winning both the OPBF and South Korean Featherweight titles. During his career the talented Hubert defeated several notable fighters, including Kuniaki Shibata.
5-Surprisingly Kang had a decent grasp of English, with KNNews reporting that he sport English though it's unclear to what level. What is known is that his ability to understand English played a major role in Kang being sent over from Korea to the US to some Heavyweight world title fights. Sadly reports on which ones are unclear, though it's reported that he covered Sonny Liston's 1962 bout with Floyd Patterson and Liston's 1964 bout with Muhammad Ali, which saw Ali become the Heavyweight world champion.
Bonus Fact - In 2005 a Korean newspaper reported that Kang was an alcoholic "Kang who is seventy-eight this year, is a drunk old man who has to drink a bottle or two of beer every day. Before the Chungmuro Samgyeopsal restaurant or beer corner opens for dinner, Mr. Kang stumbles drunk". Sadly Kang died just a few years after this report.
Between 2002 and 2008 Japanese fighter Kuniyuki Aizawa (13-4-1, 10) was a man with a lot of attention on his shoulders, and was regarded as one of the bright hopes of the Misako gym. He had been a stand out in the unpaid ranks and seemed to have insane potential to be a star. He had the tools needed, and was a smart out-side boxer who many in Japan were tipping to be someone big.
Sadly however Aizawa's career never came close to reaching the heights expected of him. His 18 fight career saw him face off with some notable names, though he would come up short in almost all of his notable bouts. Unfortunately his style never quite clicked in the professional ranks though he did manage to win an OPBF title and fight for a world title in a short, and somewhat underwhelming, career.
During his short career Aizawa defeated Chatachai Sasakul and Jin Man Jeon, but came up short against the likes of Teppei Kikui, Alexander Munoz and Kohei Kono before retiring following a loss to the flamboyant Konosuke Tomiyama in 2008.
With that short introduction out of the way, lets find out more about the man, as we bring you 5 Midweek Facts about Kuniyuki Aizawa
1-Boxing was not the first choice that Aizawa found himself involved in. In fact during junior high school he played Volleyball, a spot that is pretty far away from boxing in terms of the skills needed to compete. He did however take up boxing during his days at High School and competed in a national wide High School tournament whilst studying at Miyagi agricultural high
2-Despite not taking up boxing until high school Aizawa was a natural, and ran up a very impressive 72-12 (35) amateur record, winning 3 notable titles titles as an amateur before turning professional. Among his amateur achievements were appearances at the 1999 Asian Championships, 2000 President's Cup in Bali and the 2001 East Asian Games.
3-Aizawa was only in 4 career bouts scheduled for less than 10 rounds. These were made up of 2 bouts scheduled for 6 rounds and 2 for 8 rounds. The other 14 were either 10 rounds, which made up 9 of his bouts, or 12 rounds, which made up the other 5. Interestingly only 6 of those longer bouts were title bouts. Typically Japanese fighters in stay busy bouts are fighting over 10 rounds, which makes this a rather peculiar fact about Aizawa.
4-Rather staggeringly Aizawa's entire 18 bout professional career was spent fighting at Korakuen Hall. Whilst it's not unheard of for Japanese fighters to fight a lot at the "Holy Land", it's rare for their entire career's to be spent there. That included several title fights, including a WBA world title fight and a bout against the then unified OPBF and Japanese champion Kohei Kono.
5-Aizawa was a classmate of Takashi Uchiyama's, with both men attending the Takushoku University.
Between 2002 and 2017 Japanese Fighter Takayuki Hosokawa (29-11-5, 9) ran up a 45 fight career, whilst fighting between Lightweight and Middleweight. He never made much of a name for himself internationally, despite spending a lengthy amount of time in the IBF world rankings at 154lbs, but was very much an interesting, entertaining and enigmatic fighter who managed to fit a lot into his lengthy career.
Hosokawa lost 3 of his first 5 bouts but slowly build up his experience and developed his skills. In 2014 his won his first title, the Japanese Light Middleweight title, before adding the IBF Asia and OPBF titles to his collection. Sadly though his reigns never really saw him define himself, despite climbing very high into the IBF rankings in 2015/2016.
In 2017 Hosokawa called time on his career after issues with his eyes, and by that time he was 32 years old, with more 40 fights to his name and a career that he taken up much of his life.
With that small profile out of the way, let us bring you 5 Midweek Facts about Takayuki Hosokawa!
1-Impressively Hosokawa passed his pro-test whilst he was still in high school and he was only 18 years and 6 days old when he made his professional debut in 2002!
2-Not only was Hosokawa young when he made his debut but he was also working at the time. He was employed by his family's sheet metal company.
3-Hosokawa's blood type is AB, the rarest in Japan with only around 10% population having it. According to Japanese Blood Type Theory this bloody type is typically a sign that the person with it is an eccentric, or weird person, and it's thought that AB blood types tend to make for good social workers, lawyers and teachers. Although it's a rare blood type in Japan Hosokawa isn't the only fighter with it, by any stretch and some fighters who reportedly have AB blood type include Ryo Akaho, Satoshi Hosono, Tomonobu Shimizu, Yota Sato and Kenichi Ogawa.
4-Interestingly Hosokawa shares his name with a number of other individuals, including the very well established Takayuki Hosokawa from the Kawasaki University of Medical Welfare, who does research on Biological Psychology, Cognitive Science and Neuropsychology.
5-During his career Hosokawa had the nickname "Gorilla". That nickname stuck with him and was also the name of the bar he opened in 2019, which was "bar the GORILLA" to give it it's full name. The bar is a short walk away from the Kitashinchi Station, in Osaka Prefecture. Sadly in 2020 the Coronavirus situation saw the bar being pretty much closed for the year, and as a result Hosokawa ended up driving a truck to make ends meet whilst the bar was closed.
In recent years we have seen a lot of Japanese fighters being fast-tracked, with fighters like Kazuto Ioka and Naoya Inoue being moved incredibly quickly as prospects. It's not a new thing however, and before the likes of Inoue and Ioka there was plenty of other Japanese hopefuls moved quickly and aggressively. One such fighter was Hideyasu Ishihara (16-4-1, 10), who sadly didn't reach the top of the sport, despite very high expectations on his shoulders.
The then 22 year old Ishihara made his debut in 1998, after a relatively impressed amateur career, and in just his second professional bout he was fighting in 10 rounders, with his team expecting him to be able to be raced at an incredible pace. Sadly however he had a number of early stumbles, losing 2 of his first 6 bouts, before rebuilding winning the OPBF Super Flyweight title in 2002 and later getting two shots at the WBA Super Flyweight title.
For those who don't know much about Ishihara we thought he'd be a great subject to look at this week, in the latest 5 Midweek Facts article, as we bring you some facts about Hideyasu Ishihara.
1-In his professional debut Ishihara defeated the then Japanese Flyweight champion Nolito Cabato. Cabato, a Japanese based Filipino fighter, had had over 50 professional bouts and had notable wins over future world champions Masamori Tokuyama and Celes Kobayashi, as well as former world champion Manny Melchor. The victory for Ishihara resulted in him getting a world ranking after his debut.
2-He was so highly thought of when he turned professional that not only did he get matched with Cabato on debut but he would then challenge for the Japanese Flyweight title in just his third professional bout! Sadly Ishihara's ambitions were too big at the time, and he would be stopped by Celes Kobayashi in the 7th round of their 10 round contest. Had he won he would have set a record for the fewest fights to win a Japanese title.
3-We often talk about the Korakuen Hall being the home of Japanese boxing, and many notable fighters run up a lot of their bouts at the "Holy Land". That wasn't the case for Ishihara who only fought at Korakuen Hall once in his 21 fight professional career, and never notched a win there. His "home venue", so to speak, was instead the International Conference Hall in Nagoya, where he had 16 of his 21 bouts. In fact only two of his first 18 bouts wasn't at the International Conference Hall. Rather oddly his final 3 bouts all took place away from the International Conference Hall, a venue he was 14-1-1 in! For those who did the maths his record outside of the International Conference Hall was 2-3. On a similar note he never scored a single win outside of Nagoya!
4-Ishihara shares his name with someone involved in the video game industry. We're not totally sure which company "that" Hideyasu Ishihara works for but he's been involved in arts and graphics for things like Sonic Generations, Sonic Unleashed and Dead of Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, as well as receiving a special thanks in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
5-After his career he became a high school teacher and began working at the Chukyo High School, as a social studies teacher . He would later become the head of the school's boxing club and train none other than Kosei Tanaka and Kento Hatanaka, who he now trains as a professional.
Former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Daiki Kaneko (26-6-3, 18) was a fighter who deserved a lot more attention internationally than he got during his 12 year, 35 fight career. He was someone who consistently put in great performances and was a genuine must watch fighter with his toughness, under-rated power, and aggressive mentality. He as never a world beater, but was also never an easy out for a fighter and famously gave Takashi Uchiyama one of his toughest bouts at the end of 2013.
For those who perhaps aren't too aware of Kaneko we've decided to look at him this week, for this weeks 5 Midweek Facts article.
Before we get on to the facts however we'll just quickly look at Kaneko's career which saw him win the Japanese title in 2012, with a TKO win over Seiichi Okada, and defend it 4 times before facing Uchiyama in 2013. Coming into that bout Kaneko had won 13 in a row, with 10 stoppages, and was riding an unbeaten run going back more than 5 years. Despite losing to Uchiyama he did drop "KO Dynamite", and the bout won the Japanese award for the best bout of the year. Sadly however he went 6-3 after losing to Uchiyama, though those 9 bouts included fantastic contests with Jomthong Chuwatana, Masao Nakamura and Pavel Malikov, which are all worth watching and very entertaining. Following the loss to Malikov, in 2017, Kaneko hung up the gloves.
With those details out of the way, lets take a look at this weeks facts!
1-In high school Kaneko was a shot putter before taking up boxing. He first entered a boxing gym in the third year of junior high school, doing so in Toyohashi, before later learning about the Yokohama Hikari Gym, which would be the gym he turned professional under.
2-The boxing bug bit Kaneko after he saw bouts featuring Takanori Hatakeyama and Joichiro Tatsuyoshi. He then spoke to his father, who was also a fan of the sport, about fighting himself.
3-Kaneko's ring entrance music was a rock song recorded by the legendary Eikichi Yazawa. The song, entitled "Tomaranai Ha ~ Ha", translates roughly as "I Can't Stop Ha Ha" and we've included a video of Yazawa performing the song at the end of the article.
4-Interestingly Kaneko shares his name with a Japanese football player, born in 1998, and a kickboxer, born in 1994. Making him one of 3 sporting Daiki Kaneko's. Whilst not a rare name it's surprisingly to see 3 sports people all with the same name in totally different fields. Also, on the subject of names, he was nicknamed "Lightning".
5-Like many Japanese fighters based in East Japan Kaneko fought most of his career at Korakuen Hall, with 30 of his 35 professional bouts taking place in the "Holy Land" of Japanese boxing. Amazingly however he fought just a single bout in the city he grew up in, Toyohashi, and that was his return bout following his 2013 loss to Takeshi Uchiyama.
His other bouts outside of Korakuen Hall were an early career bout at the Nanba Grand Kagetsu, in Osaka; his bout with Uchiyama at the Ota-City General Gymnasium; a late career bout in Shizuoka; and his final bout, in Russia against Pavel Malikov.
From 1994 to 2010 Japanese fighter Hindenobu Honda (33-8, 15) was regarded as one of the best technical fighters in Japan. Although highly skilled Honda never managed to win a world world title though he did have a successful career that saw him winning a Japanese title, twice fighting for world titles and challenging for an OPBF title.
During his 41 fight career Honda managed to face a genuine who's who of the lower weights. These included bouts with Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Alexander Munoz, Nobuo Nashiro, Alexander Bakhtin, Daigo Nakahiro, Konosuke Tomiyama and Malcolm Tunacao.
In just his 10th bout Honda beat Ryuji Muramatsu for the Japanese Light Flyweight title. He would later go to make 7 defenses before moving on to his first world title fight in 2002, challenging Wonjongkam. A year later he would get his second world title fight, losing to Munoz. Following that loss Honda was never quite the same and went 7-5 (1) in his last 12 bouts, after beginning his career 26-3 (14). Soon after his 8th loss he retired, ending his career aged 35.
With that small introduction out of the way, let us bring you 5 Midweek facts about Hidenobu Honda!
1-As an amateur boxer Honda ran up a record of 11-6 (1) and was the captain of his high school boxing team, at the Nissho Gakuen High School in Miyazaki City. Despite his short amateur career he managed to earn a #10 domestic ranking on the junior scene at Light Flyweight. Interestingly he also competed in Shaolin Karate whilst at high school.
2-Going back to the Nissho Gakuen High School, Honda was the second Japanese champion from the school. He had followed in the foot steps of Takeyuki Akagi, who had won the Japanese Super Featherweight title 3 times in the 1980's and 1990's. Since Honda's reign as the Japanese Flyweigth champion only one other fighter from the high school has become a Japanese champion, and that was Daishi Nagata.
3-Honda's nickname was the "Defense Master", due to his high level of defensive skills and the slippery nature of his boxing. Surprisingly he didn't have this nickname when he started the sport, but instead adopted this nickname in the late 1990's, whilst climbing up through the world rankings of both the WBA and WBC.
4-On December 23rd 2010 Honda took part in his retirement ceremony which included a spar with Malcolm Tunacao, the man who had beaten Honda in what was Honda's final professional bout. This took place on the under-card of the WBA Super Flyweight title bout between Hugo Fidel Cazares and Hiroyuki Kudaka. Rather interestingly there was a lot of big Japanese boxing names in the crowd for this, including Hiroki Ioka, Masamori Tokuyama, Nobuhiro Ishida and Ismael Salas.
5-In 2015 Honda became the Chairman of the Kanagawa Atsumi Boxing Gym, in Kanagawa.
Former Japanese Super Featherweight champion Isao Ishikawa (12-4, 11), who was better known as Isao Mano, is not a fighter that we expect many fight fans to be too aware of, though he certainly had an interesting career, and is one of the many fighters out there who probably should have accomplished a lot more than he actually did. In fact he's someone who showed a lot of potential as a teenager in the amateur ranks but never really clicked when it came to the professional ranks.
With Mano not being a particularly well known fighter we thought he was an ideal choice to talk about this week in our latest 5 Midweek facts article, as we look to shine a light on another retired former fighter.
Before go into the fact we'll quickly run over Mano's career which spanned from 1984 to 1994, and saw him fight 16 professional bouts. Amazingly those bouts lasted a combined 50 rounds, and only 2 of those 16 bouts actually went to the final bell. Win or lose Mano's bouts tended to be short and dramatic and only a single one of his contests saw round 6! He was, for all intents, a bit of a glass cannon, and for fans watching his fights were rarely dull.
1-As an amateur Ishikawa was impressive, despite only notching up an 11-2 record. He began boxing when he was in school and came in the final 8 of the 1982 Inter-High school competition. His potential was obvious and and he quickly joined the Morioka gym to begin his professional career at the age of 17. Despite his youth there was real expectations on his shoulders.
2-Sadly for Ishikawa those expectations on his shoulders saw him becoming over-confident and he ended up losing his first 2 bouts, both in 1984. Following those set backs he retired from boxing with a 0-2 record, aged just 17!
3-Surprisingly Ishikawa turned turned professional to help his mother with finances. This must have made his early retirement doubly hard. During his retirement he did manage to do a number of jobs, including being a waiter and a long distance driver.
4-Years after retiring Ishikawa had a chance meeting in the with Eiji Morioka, the chairman of the Morioka Gym, who had previously handled his professional career. That meeting lead to Ishikawa returning to professional boxing, and restarting his career in 1991, under the "Isao Mano" ring name. He completely turned his career around with 10 straight victories from 1991 to 1993, including winning the Rookie of the Year in 1992. This comeback saw him go from 0-2 to 10-2 (9) in a remarkable career turn around.
5-Mano's unbeaten streak came to an end in June 1993, when Toshikazu Suzuki stopped him in 4 rounds. Despite that loss Mano got a shot at Japanese Super Featherweight champion Kenichiro Kojo less than 3 months later and scored a major upset win over Kojo, who was enjoying his second reign as the champion. Interestingly Mano's title win came via 10th round TKO in Mano's only bout to go past 5 rounds. Sadly for Mano however his reign was a short one as his first defense saw him being stopped by Toshikazu Suzuki, meaning his title win was sandwiched between losses to Suzuki in a rather odd looking end to his career.
Bonus fact - When Hinata Maruta won the Japanese Featherweight title in February 2021 he became the first fighter from the Morioka gym to win a Japanese title since Mano more than 27 years earlier!
Between 2000 and 2013 Filipino fighter Rolly Lunas notched an under-rated 34-9-1 (20) record whilst becoming a multi-time OPBF champion and claiming various other belts. At his best he a solid Bantamweight contender, and did fight at world level, though is often forgotten now a days.
Although never a world champion Lunas was a genuinely notable figure on the Asian scene and the Bantamweight scene. He started his career in the Philippines, winning his first 13 bouts, but spent a good chunk of his career in Japan, fighting under the moniker "Rolly Matsushita", whilst based at the Kashimi Gym.
During his 44 fight professional career Lunas scored notable wins over the likes of Malcolm Tunacao, Foijan Prawet, Rasmanudin, Jerope Mercado, Kohei Oba and Ryuichi Funai. He also shared the ring with the likes of Noriyuki Komatsum Anselmo Moreno, Hiromasa Ohashi and Chris Avalos.
Today we're going to focus on Lunas as we bring you the latest in our "5 Midweek Facts" articles!
1-As an amateur Lunas claimed a 52-4 record and apparently fought in 5 national level competitions
2-During his years in Japan Lunas would be one of the chief sparring partners to Japanese icon Hozumi Hasegawa. Interestingly Mack Kurihara, who has trained Lunas, has stated that Lunas and his team were wanting to fight Hasegawa, when the "Ace of Japan" was the WBC Bantamweight champion.
3-In October 2008 Lunas got his sole world title fight, when he took on Anselmo Moreno in Panama. There is some speculation that Lunas only got a week's notice for this bout, but it seems that he got longer than that at Mack Kurihara gave an interview 3 weeks before the bout talking about the bout. Interestingly Moreno had fought in the previous September whilst Lunas fought in August, meaning that the turn around, for both men was very short. Moreno's turn around was 6 weeks whilst Lunas's was around 12 and a half weeks.
4-Lunas's cousin is Stephen Lunas, who has worked in the past as Mercito Gesta's cut man. In fact it was Stephen Lunas who helped secure Rolly's chance to make a name in the US, where he linked up with US trainer Vincent Parra. Stephen Lunas also served as part of John Riel Casimero's team in 2020.
5-Interestingly Lunas was pencilled into fight in 2015, in what would have been his first bout in well over a year, though had to pull out of the bout due to injuries. Injuries that seemingly finished his in ring career. He had been affected by injuries in the past and reportedly both of his hands were injured ahead of his bout with Moreno in 2008.
Between 2003 and 2016 Japan's Akio Shibata (27-9-1, 13) amassed a credible record and was showered in gold, even if he never really made any sort of an impact on an international audience. In fact many international fans will likely only know him for one reason, being the guy that Ryota Murata made his professional debut against in 2013. A bout that saw him being stopped in 2 by Murata.
Sadly that loss, in really the only bout that international fans will have seen, over shadows what was a very successful career for Shibata. So successful in fact that he was a 3-time Japanese national champion and a 2-weight OPBF champion, and was actually a unified champion at both Light Middleweight and Middleweight.
Shibata, who fought out of the Watanabe Gym, was a model professional and managed to carve out a genuinely impressive career, one that actually becomes even more impressive when you realise Shibata picked up boxing later than most and was 9-5-1 (5) after his first 15 bouts.
With that out of the way let ups bring you 5 Midweek Facts and Akio Shibata and further build your knowledge about this criminally under-rated Japanese fighter.
1-Back in Junior high school Shibata was a basketball player. Stood at 6'0", around 6" taller than an average Japanese male, and with long rangy arms it is little surprise that he was a success in the sport as a youngster. He didn't even start boxing until he graduation from a vocational school. Prior to turning to boxing he had preferred team sports, including basketball, baseball and soccer.
2-Shibata is a licensed teacher and kindergarten teacher, and was working part time at a nursery early in his career. In fact he was he reportedly worked as a nursery teacher for 5 years years, from the age of 21.
3-During a 37 fight career Shibata rarely left Tokyo, in fact he very rarely fought outside of the legendary Korakun Hall. Of 37 bouts 32 took place at Korakuen Hall, two took place at the Ariake Colosseum, including his bout with Ryota Murata and the other three took place at the Arena in Odawara, the IMP Hall in Osaka and the Bunka Hall in Yokohama. Similarly almost everyone Shibata fought was a Japanese fighter, with the only exceptions being Charles Bellamy, a Japanese based American, and Michael Speed Sigarlaki, an Indonesian fighter.
4-In recent years Shibata has become involved in trainer fighters and is a major figure at the SOETE gym, where he is the main representative, the face of the company and the main trainer. Interestingly he's not the only former fighter now acting as a trainer at the gym, as former Watanabe Gym fighter Nihito Arakawa is also among the training staff there!
5-In 2019, whilst doing an interview about SOETE, Shibata revealed that he had been bullied in elementary school, and felt a connection to Hajime No Ippo, which also featured a character who had been bullied before turning to boxing. The memories of bullying also inspired him to bounce back from his famous loss to Ryota Murata, with Shibata seemingly thinking he was being bullied into retirement and had a point to prove.
Bonus fact - Interestingly Shibata made a promise to himself after losing to Murata, and that was that he would retire after his next loss. Something he did following his 2016 loss to Hikaru Nishida, ending his 13 year career. Prior to that Shibata had had different rules for when he would retire. He admitted that he had planned to retire when he either had an even record, or lost in 3 a row. Only changing those rules after the Murata bout.
The world of professional boxing is full of interesting characters and unusual stories, with people from different backgrounds and heritages. One such fighter is former Japanese Middleweight champion Keitoku Senrima (12-8, 7), who fought between 1979 and 1989 and fought most of his career under a fake name! In fact his real name was Ge-Dok Kim. Despite being born in Japan he was a Korean fighter, who associated with North Korea due to his heritage.
Although his career only last 20 bouts he was a pretty notable figure in the ring and was one of the more notable Japanese Middleweights of the 1980's. He has also become one of the key figures in Japanese boxing in Kobe, where he has become a popular promoter.
Atlhough Senrima's record looks appalling he achieved an awful lot during his 20 bouts and turned around a 4-5 start to his professional career to win the Japanese Middleweight title and make 5 successful defenses. In fact he went from 4-5 as a professional to 11-5 before a poor run late in his career.
With that little introduction out of the way, lets learn more about Senrima, as we share 5 Midweek facts about Keitoku Senrima!
1-Senrima's background is interesting, as alluded to above. He was a third generation Japanese-Korean and he was one of 4 siblings, with Senrima having 2 brothers and a sister. Notably he was always quite open about his Korean heritage, something that many Japanese-Koreans tend to hide. Interestingly "Senrima" is the name of a mythical winged horse from Chinese mythology that has been regarded as an incredibly important symbol for North Korea.
2-Before taking to boxing Senrima was originally a good basketball player. He was part of the Basketball club at the Kobe Korean Senior High School and later played in an adult team following graduation. Amazingly he was 20 when he picked up boxing and would debut as a professional aged 21! Rather notable he was around 6'0" which perhaps explains some of his success in basketball, given the average height in Japan for men in 1980 was around 5'7", he was a bit of a giant.
3-A a fighter Senrima had several names. He debuted as Keitoku Senrima, then changed his fighting name in 1984, around the time of his second bout with Shinji Tojo, changed against at the time of his third bout with Tojo and then went back to the Senrima name when he challenged Gary Hubble for the OPBF Light Heavyweight.
4-In September 1983 Senrima sparred at the Kronk Gym, sharing the ring with the legendary Tommy Hearns and Milton McCrory. Rather notably Senrima would have been the Japanese Middleweight champion at this point, whilst Hearns was the WBC Light Middleweight champion and McCrory was the WBC Welterweight champion.
5-Following his retirement Senrima set up the Senrima Kobe Gym. The Gym isn't one of biggest out there but has been a success story and was responsible for the early success of Hozumi Hasegawa, who later left to be part of the Shinsei Gym. It also helped Teiru Kinoshita get two world title fights, sadly though he lost both to Zolani Tete and Jerwin Ancajas.
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).