Earlier today we saw Ryoichi Tamura (12-3-1, 6) [田村 亮一] claim the Japanese Super Bantamweight title, as defeated Mugicha Nakagawa (24-6-1, 14) [武田勇太] for the previous vacant title. On paper that isn't huge news, despite being a notable story, however for fans of Hajime No Ippo the news is something to rejoice due to Tamura's link with the creator of Hajime No Ipppo, Jyoji Morikawa.
The 53 year old Morikawa not only created Hajime No Ippo but also runs his own gym, the JB Sports Boxing Gym. The same gym that Tamura fights out of.
Located in Adachi the JB Sports hasn't had a huge amount of success, despite being a physically impressive gym with a statue of Takamura Mamoru on it's roof. In fact we need to go back to 2000, when Manabu Fukushima (36-12-4, 20) [福島学] won the Japanese Super Bantamweight title, to find their only other title success.
Interestingly Fukushima's success saw him being used as the basis of a character in the Hajime No Ippo series, Itagaki Manabu. Given that history we may well see Ryoichi Tamura also being the basis of a character in the future and being used as inspiration for Mr Morikawa for future Ippo stories.
Whilst Tamura's win won't suddenly put the JB gym in the position to sign the top amateurs, who are more likely to sign with Watanabe, Ohashi or Teiken, it is a sign that the JB gym is going places, and they may well be set for their biggest yet. Not only is Tamura now a Japanese champion but Kyosuke Sawada (12-2-1, 6) [澤田京介] is himself a Japanese ranked fighter and it seems plausible that success could generate more success, and more success.
The recognition of Ippo and Morikawa's success, in both manga and sports, is likely to lead to more attention to both the gym and his creations. In Japan "Ippo" is big news, the gym stocks Ippo goods, and in fact today saw Ippo tape being used at the Dangan card.
After the win today Tamura stated "I have had many dreams, but now they've became a reality, I would like to thank Professor Morikawa, trainer, and staff." (translated), and the win has got Mr Morikawa and Ippo extra attention in the national presses.
Sadly if you'd like to see Tamura's big win today you'll have to watch it over the subscription service Boxingraise.com, though it was a very impressive performance from Tamura, the sort of performance that should really build him a large fanbase, even without cross fans from Ippo.
(Images courtesy of boxmob.jp, JB Sports)
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).