In recent years unbeaten records have become a marketing tool, to help promote a fighter. In the past they weren't quite the same thing and fighters who had them didn't out and out try to protect them. As a result fighters who retired as world champions with unbeaten records were few and far between. One of the few from Asia was Korean Ji Won Kim, who retired in 1986 with a 16-0-2 (9) record following 4 defenses of the IBF Super Bantamweight title. To this day Kim is one of only 2 Asian men to have retired as an unbeaten world champion, with the other being Pichit Sithbanprachan.
Whilst we suspect many have heard of his name we also doubt fans know much at all about Kim, his life and his career. So here we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Ji Won Kim
1-Kim was one of 6 children in the family.
2-Prior to turning professional Ji Won Kim was an excellent amateur. Whilst we've not been able to track down his full amateur record we know he won the 1980 Asian Championships in Bombay among other international tournaments, and had Korea not boycotted the 1980 Olympics he was expected, by those in Korea, to be in the mix for a medal
3-The first 9 of Ji Won Kim's bouts all went the distance. That's not that interesting until you realise that only 2 of his final 9 bouts went the distance, and only 1 of his 5 world title bouts went the distance, with 3 of them not even going beyond 5 rounds. He is a great example of a fighter developing his power as he built his in ring experience.
4-Whilst Kim's record of 16-0-2 (9) is pretty well known something that perhaps isn't too well known is that both of his draws came to Neptala Alamag, a Filipino who later went on to win the OPBF Bantamweight title. This was the only opponent that Kim failed to defeat during his 18 bout career.
5-Only one of Kim's opponents wasn't from Asia. Ruben Dario Palacio, from Colombia, was the only person Kim faced who wasn't from Korea, the Philipines or Indonesia. In fact Palacio and Saipa Monod, from Indonesia, were his opponents from places other than Korea and the Philippines.
6-Ji won Kim was the third man to hold the IBF Super Bantamweight. He won the title from Sun In Suh, the second champion, and would defend it against both Bobby Berna, the first champion, and Suh. In what is a rather peculiar little detail to his reign as the champion.
7-Kim reportedly earned ₩27,000,000 for his defense against Bobby Berna
8-According to Korean sources the official date of Kim's retirement came on November 24th 1986, more than 5 months after his final world title defense. That means his 18 fight career lasted less than 5 years, and his world title run, which included 4 defenses, lasted less than 2 years.
9-After retiring Kim would go on to have success as an actor and a singer. Interestingly his family are actually talented in the entertainment field as well, with several of his siblings being involved in some form of entertainment, be it singing, acting or even a director. In fact his brother, Jee Woon Kim, has been a very successful director and picking up numerous awards for his work. Whilst Ji Won's sister Ji Sook Kim has been a very successful actress.
10-Also after retiring Kim admitted that he was rather lazy and had he devoted himself to the sport he felt he could have been Korea's first 3 weight world champion. It seems clear that Kim, who stated he retired after issues with the Korean Boxing Commission, could have done a lot more with his career given he was only 26 when he walked away from the ring.
Extra Fact - Ji Won Kim's cousin, Suk-Kim Chang, competed at the 1974 Asian Games in Tehran.
We've all heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and we've decided to put our spin on things with "Six degrees of separation" looking to connect Asian fighters you may never have assumed were connected! Today we connect former Japanese world champion Toshiaki Nishioka to... former Korean world champion Ji Won Kim.
Just as ground rules, we're not doing the more basic "A beat B who beat C who beat D" type of thing, but instead we want to link fighters in different ways. As a result we will limit A fought B connections, and try to get more varied connections together, as you'll see here! We also know there are often shorter routes to connect fighters, but that's not always the most interesting way to connect them.
1-Japanese fighter Toshiaki Nishioka began his professional career in 1994, after a 12 fighter amateur career. At the time he was regarded as a promising fighter and would later make a name for himself as talented sparring partner. His debut fight was on December 11th 1994 in Himeji and although he won on debut he actually lost in his second bout, which was on February 4th 1995. Another man losing on that card was Korean fighter Hee Youn Kwon, who dropped a split decision to Yuichi Kasai, and lost the OPBF Super Bantamweight title with that defeat.
2-Whilst rather forgotten now Hee Youn Kwon did have a small but notable career that saw him fighting 7 times from 1992 to 1997. Whilst his OPBF win, which saw him title in Jakarta and losing it in Japan, was the most notable aspect of his career he did also take on notable Mongolian Choi Tseveenpurev in what would be Kwon's final bout, and Choi's second professional bout.
3-Although best known for his career in the UK Choi Tseveenpurev did actually fight quite a few times in Asia, fighting his first 8 fights in Asia and covering 5 different countries. During that 8 fight streak Choi went 6-2, losing to Veeraphol Sahaprom and the little known Bulan Bugiarso, who beat Choi to defend the PABA Super Bantamweight title.
4-The PABA Super Bantamweight title, which has now no longer in service with due to issues between the PABA and the WBA, was once regarded as a secondary regional title. It was the WBA's answer to the OPBF. The man that beat Bulan Bugiarso for the title was future world champion Damrong Kongsuk from Thailand.
5-On April 2nd 2000 Damrong Kongsuk suffered the first mark on his record, fighting to am draw with Filipino veteran Jess Maca. That same show in April 2000 also featured the penultimate bout for Thai former world champion Pichit Sithbanprachan, who defeated Marlon Arlos with a 10 round decision. This was Pichit's second bout since vacating the IBF Flyweight title back in 1994.
6-Pichit Sithbanprachan is one of just 2 Asian world champions to have retired unbeaten. The other is Korean Ji Won Kim, who held the IBF Super Bantamweight title from January 1995 to June 1986, retiring after his 4th world title defense.
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).