Fight fans of the Japanese scene likely recognise the name "Puma Toguchi". The popular Flyweight from the 1990's was one of the countries biggest stars, and ran up an impressive looking record of 23-4 (19). He was tipped for big things, and whilst he failed to live up the expectations on his shoulders he remained a hugely popular fighter, who was rarely in a dull bout.
Born Takato Toguchi in 1969 we suspect that many fans who have seen the name of Puma Toguchi perhaps aren't that familiar with him. Fans maybe aware of his name, without being too aware of the fighter himself. With that in mind, here are 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Puma Toguchi.
1-Prior to beginning his career Toguchi dropped out of Nihon University, where he was attending the School of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine
2-As an amateur fighter Toguchi went an incredible 53-5 (40), having trained under the legendary Shinkichi Kaneshiro, who also helped mould the likes of Tsuyoshi Hamada and Satoshi Shingaki. Although not well known in the west Kaneshiro was one of the most important men in Japanese boxing, and was regarded as having an amazing eye for, and ability to develop, talent.
3-Toguchi, along with Katsuya Onizuka and Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, made up the "Heisei no sanbagarasu", the Trio of Heisei. Toguchi was the only one of the trio not to win a world title, and in many way's was comparable to Katsutoshi Aoki, who was part of a previous trio dubbed the "Trio of Showa".
4-Toguchi lost in the 1987 Inter High School Flyweight final to Hiroshi Kawashima, who later went on to become the WBC Super Flyweight world champion. Despite the loss Toguchi did get revenge in the professional ranks the following year, stopping Kawashima in the East Japan Rookie of the Year Final.
5-In his first 6 bouts Toguchi would beat 2 men who later went on ton win world titles. There was Kawashima, as mentioned, and Manny Melchor, who later won the IBF Minimumweight title. During his career he would also beat former world champions Dodie Boy Penalosa, Tacy Macalos, Eric Chavez and Rolando Pascua
6-One thing we've heard a few times in recent years is the JBC indefinitely suspending a fighters license. Toguchi actually suffered that same fate in 1991, after a scheduled fight with Yuri Arbachakov, then fighting as Yuri Chakov, was cancelled. Officially the bout was cancelled due to Toguchi suffering a right ankle sprain, though it appears there was much more to it, much much more to it and he would have a notable falling out with the Victory gym at the time. Rumours circulated that he'd gotten injured whilst drunk, and things were rather a mess at that point for Toguchi, who's suspension lasted more than 2 years. The poster that was being used for this bout is the one we've featured at the top of this article.
7-In his first bout back after the suspension he faced former world champion Jesus Rojas, after almost 2 and a half years out and without any type of easy comeback bout
8-Despite the issues in 1991, when Toguchi was originally supposed to fight Arbachakov, the two men did finally fight in 1996. That bout saw saw Arbachakov retain the WBC Flyweight title with a 9th round TKO over Toguchi, who fought under his birth name of Takato Toguchi
9-In December 1998 Toguchi was pencilled in to fight the then WBA Super Flyweight champion Satoshi Iida. That fight was cancelled when Toguchi had a suspected stroke. It later turned out that he had been misdiagnosed, and it took a lengthy time for him to return to the ring. In his return he was stopped by domestic journeyman Motonari Kashima, in what would be the final bout for both men.
10 - During his boxing career Toguchi fought for 4 different gyms and was regarded as a tricky man to handle.
Extra Fact 1 - In 1993 Toguchi married got married, he and his wife had 3 children before getting divorced in 2006.
Extra Fact 2 - Toguchi has been suffering from Dementia Pugilistica, and in 2019 the symptoms had worsened to the point where he was having repeated seizures, memory problems, forgot his age and where he lived. Things got so bad that his eldest daughter quit her job to take care of him. Worryingly, due to his health he didn't recognise her.
Extra Fact 3 - The 1996 bout between Toguchi and Arbachakov won the Japanese Fight of the Year. Incidentally that same year Arbachakov took the skills Award and former foe Kawashima took the Best Fighter award, essentially the MVP.
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).