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.
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).