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
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).