Although not a huge name, and not particularly well remembered in the west, Japan's Keiji Yamaguchi was regarded as hot stuff when he turned professional in 1992, at the age of 18. Yamaguchi managed to have some solid success during his career, which saw him run up a 30-8-1 (11) professional record and claim the WBA Light Flyweight title.
Given how many fans will not be aware of Yamaguchi he seems, to us, a perfect fighter to cover in our weekly "10 facts you probably didn't know about"... series. So here are 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Keiji Yamaguchi
1-As an amateur Yamaguchi won the National High School Boxing Selection Tournament, Inter High School and National Sports Festival titles in 1991, becoming the first high school triple crown winner. He managed to amass a very impressive 28-3 (11) record in the unpaid ranks, and was incredibly highly regarded when he decided to turn professional.
2-When he turned professional he had a Japanese record signing contract, with multiple gyms trying to secure his signature, including International, Green Tsuda and Kyoei. The professional contract he signed was similar to Yasutsune Uehara, Satoshi Koguchi, Satoshi Shingaki and Yamato Mitani and was for a reported ¥10,000,000
3-Yamaguchi was a converted southpaw
4-Yamaguchi walk out music was Europe's iconic track "The Final Countdown"
5-When Yamaguchi did finally sign a professional contract it was with the Green Tsuda gym, in 1992, supposedly after advice from Yoko Gushiken. He would stay a Green Tsuda fighter until 1999, when he left to join the gym TAIKOH Kobayashi Jim, lead by former world champion Hiroshi Kobayashi. His stay with Kobayashi was a short one, and in 2000 he signed with Shin Nihon Kimura Boxing Gym, before signing back with TAIKOH Kobayashi for his final bout.
6-Yamaguchi was a big Prince Naseem Hamed fan, incidentally Hameda and Yamaguchi debuted in the same year!
7-Yamaguchi was awarded the Hakodate Citizen's Honor award.
8-Yamaguchi would go on to become the head trainer at the Ioka Boxing Gym following his retirement, linking back up with fellow former Green Tsuda fighter Hiroki Ioka. The two men had careers that were very close, with Yamaguchi fighting on a number of Ioka under-cards.
9-In recent years Yamaguchi has been running the Hadokate Bare Hamed in Osaka City.
10-On October 10th 2019 Yamaguchi's teenager son Shinba Yamaguchi made his professional boxing debut. Just like his father Shinba won his debut with an opening round win, taking out Thailand's Buncha Natheekeereekan in just 40 seconds at Korakuen Hall.
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).