Over the last few years female boxing has been receiving mainstream attention in the West with a growing number of female fighters getting chances to show what they can do in the Olympics as well as the US and UK. Female fighters like Katie Taylor, Claresa Shields, Mikaela Mayer and Seniesa Estrada have all managed to shine in big opportunities.
In the past however female boxing was mostly over-looked in the West meaning a lot of top female talent from the past ended up being pretty much left as historical footnotes to many fans. One such fighter was Naomi Togashi (10-1-1, 5), one of the first major female stars of Japanese boxing.
Today we're going to help shine a light on Togashi, her career and life in general as we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Naomi Togashi
1-Before turning to boxing Togashi was originally interesting in playing Volleyball, something she did when she was at High School
2-Sadly Togashi's father passed away when she was still a teenager.
3-Despite not picking up boxing until she was in her 20's Togashi managed to have genuine success in the unpaid ranks. She ran up a 16-4 record as an amateur, winning two All Japan titles along the way, before turning to professional boxing. Before turning professional she had hoped to compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which were expected to be the first Olmypics to have female boxing before those plans were scrapped.
4-Rather interestingly Togashi was class mates with Kayoko Ebata, a fellow fighter who also turned professional. The two women would bother make their names in the professional scene as fighters who fought out of the Watanabe Gym
5-As a fighter Togashi was given the nickname of "The Fighting Midwife". For those wondering, that was because she actually was a fighting midwife, and worked in a hospital in Tokyo. In fact to be even more specific she worked as a midwife at the NTT Medical Center in Tokyo. She qualified to become a midwife in 2001 after previously going to a nursing school
6-In 2011 Togashi released a book, with a title that translates as "Run! Midwife Boxer". The book is 218 pages long.
7-During her career Togashi really was a bit of a trend setting a key figure in the early adoption of female boxing in Japan, particularly with the JBC, who were very slow to recognise female boxing. She would go on to become the first ever world champion out of the Watanabe Gym, winning the WBC female Light Flyweight title in 2008, and she was also the first Japanese fighter to capture a world title on the road in 16 years, with Akinobu Hiranaka being the previous one in 1992! Winning the title in just her 4th professional bout saw her also setting a Japanese record, that still stands to this day! She was also the first Japanese female world champion to be recognised by the JBC.
8-Togashi is a big fan of Theatre and used the Lion King song "Circle of Life" as her ring walk music.
9-At Togashi's protest bout her mother admitted that she had objected to her daughter becoming a boxer. Though it was later reported that she travelled with Togashi, to Korea, for her world title win in 2008.
10-In her 12 fight career Togashi only had 3 bouts that weren't world title bouts, her first 3. Following that she had 9 straight world title contests, including a unification bout in 2009 with Etsuko Tada. With this stat she is one of the very, very few fighters to have fought 75% of her career at world level. Notably only one of her opponents had more losses than wins when she faced them. Staying with statistics Togashi fought 5 of her 12 bouts outside of Japan, including her first, her world title win, 2 successful defenses of the WBC female Light Flyweight title, and her final bout, at the age of 36!
Togashi is married to former fighter Yuji Takita, himself a former fighter at the Watanabe Gym!
Last week we looked at some little known facts of Japanese boxing, and today we're going to follow that up with a similar article, this time focusing on the often overlooked women of Japanese boxing, who also have some interesting records of their own!
1-Momo Koseki holds the Japanese record for most world title defenses, with 17. That's not just a female record but a Japanese record, with Koseki defending the WBC Atomweight title 17 times from August 2008, when she won the belt, to her final defense in November 2016. During her reign she also won the WBA Atomweight title beating Ayaka Miyao. The run included 1 wins and a draw and included victories over almost every notable Atomweight of the time, including Nao Ikeyama, Saemi Hanagata and Miyao. She eventually gave up the belt and in 2017, in what was her final bout, she became a 2-weight champion.
2-The oldest Japanese world champion was Nao Ikeyama, who lost the WBO Atomweight title on July 29th 2018, 48 years, 10 months and 9 days. She not only holds the record for the oldest Japanese world champion when she lost the title, but also when she won it, winning the belt at 44 years 7 months and 29 days, and she has the trifecta as she also holds the record for being the oldest for a successful world title defense, coming when she was 47 years, 9 months and 23 days.
3-The Japanese record for the fewest fights to a female world title is a disputed record with 3 different claimants depending on definition.
The fewest fights, as recognised by the JBC, sees Momo Koseki holding the record with 3 sanctioned bouts, however she had fought several times in Thailand prior to that in bouts not recognised by the JBC. Similarly Naomi Togashi the "interim" WBC female Light Flyweight title in her third bout recognised by the JBC, though of course that's an interim title. Togashi would however receive the full version of the title before her 6th professional bout.
The record, as seen on boxrec, is actually held by Kasumi Saeki, who won the WBO female Minimumweight title in her 4th professional bout earlier this year. All of her bouts came after the JBC officially recognised female boxing and there is no confusion over the legitimacy of her bouts or title win.
4-The shortest recorded height of a Japanese female fighter is Yuri Kobayashi, who was 4′ 10½″, or 149cm. She fought from 2006 to 2017 and racked up a 4-4-4 record. Interestingly she is taller than Kazunori Tenryu, who was the shortest Japanese male to fight in a professional bout.
5-The Japanese fighter to win world titles in the most divisions is Naoko Fujioka, who is Japan's only 5 weight world champion. The talented Fujioka began her career at Minimumweight, winning the WBC female Minimumweight title in 2011, when she stopped Anabel Ortiz. She would skip all the way up to Super Flyweight for her second title, dethroning Naoko Yamaguchi in 2013 for the WBA female Super Flyweigth title. Her third title came at Bantamweight, when she captured the WBO female Bantamweight title. Her 5th title saw her dropping to Flyweight, to claim the WBA title in 2017 against Isabel Milan, before dropping down to Light Flyweight for the WBO towards the end of 2017.
Interestingly Fujioka didn't take a Flyweight title until her third shot, losing to both Susi Kentikian and Jessica Chavez in bouts for titles at 112lbs.
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).