Japanese boxing is currently going through a real golden generation with a lot of amazingly talented fighters making their mark on the sport. The generation of fighters we have now will likely go down as being the best, so far, in terms of talent, potential and achievement. It is however worth noting that in the 1990's there was another generation of Japanese fighters who were headed by some incredibly popular fighters. There is, of course, Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, who was the nation's biggest boxing enigma, and the massively well liked Katsuya Onizuka.
Onizuka, known as "Spanky K" was the WBA Super Flyweight champion from April 1992 to September 1994, and piled up an excellent 24-1 (17) record as a professional. Whilst he was well liked in Japan, Western fans likely don't know much about him, so here are 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Katsuya Onizuka.
1-As a child Onizuka suffered from asthma and reportedly began boxing to build up his physical strength. He has publicly stated that he "wanted to be strong" during that time of his life.
2-As an amateur Onizuka went 38-5 (20), with 1 of his 5 losses coming to future WBC Super Flyweight champion Hiroshi Kawashima. His amateur credentials included being crowned the 1986 High School champion at Light Flyweight.
3- In his 13th professional bout Onizuka faced OPBF Super Flyweight champion Tatsuya Sugi, and stopped Sugi in the 7th round. This however wasn't a title fight, despite both men making the 115lbs limit.
4-In 1992 Khaosai Galaxy announced his retirement, Onizuka was the WBA #1 contender and would have been the mandatory for the Thai great.
5-As a teenager Onizuka went to Thailand to train, and watched a bout of future foe Thanomsak Sithbaobay, a man who Onizuka twice scraped close decision wins against. Onizuka seemingly regarded Thanomsak very highly after watching him in the flesh, years before they met in the ring.
6-Despite only losing once as a professional Onizuka retired following his sole defeat. The reason for the retirement wasn't solely the loss though, and instead it was down to suffering a retinal detachment which forced him to hang up the gloves as an active fighter. He did however remain involved in the sport and set up the Spanky K sacred Boxing hall in Fukuoka
7-Onizuka's name and likeness was used in a Super Famicom boxing game, "Onizuka Katsuya Super Virtual Boxing", which was played from a 1st person perspective.
8-After retiring from boxing Onizuka looked for a second career and, began working at a Kindergarten, did commentary for TBS and was involved in fashion design, continuing the reputation he had crafted as a boxer with style from his in ring career.
9-In 1998 Onizuka featured in a full length Japanese movie, "The Revenge of the Wolves". This was seemingly his acting debut, and was a violent movie that (sadly whilst this was on youtube when we first scheduled the article to be posted it has since been removed from the site)
10-Also following his retirement from the ring Onizuka has had success as a artist, and has held exhibitions with his paintings on show. His artwork has been genuinely successful, and it's has been shown across Japan. He's a particularly accomplished painter.
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).