Boxing history is one of those things that fans either care rabidly about, or doesn't care much at all for. Despite that there are names that most fans have heard of, even if just in passing. Fans might not be too aware of them, but will recognise their names. One such fighter is Royal Kobayashi. The Japanese puncher was a short term WBC Super Bantamweight champion in the mid 1970's and an Olympian in 1972, and although he's well remembered now a days he did fight a bit of a "who's who" of the time and was certain a fun to watch fighter, who deserves more attention than he gets.
With that in mind we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Royal Kobayashi!
1-Whilst we mentioned in the introduction that Kobayashi was a former Olympian that was only part of his amateur career. In the unpaid ranks he went 34-3 (28), winning 2 All Japan championships and reaching the final 8 of the '72 Olympics. In the unpaid ranks he was always considered a fighter with a professional style and a huge punch.
2-Kobayashi's, in 1973, debut was an 8 rounder! Whilst these aren't totally unheard of, they are incredibly rare in Japan and the most recent Japanese fighter to debut in such a bout was Naoya Inoue in 2012. Inoue's was the first since 1987, when Takeyuki Akagi debuted in such a bout.
3-Rather surprisingly Kobayashi's first title fight, of any kind, came against a legitimate all time great. Rather than coming through the ranks and claiming a national or regional title he faced off with the legendary Alexis Arguello for the WBA Featherweight title. Sadly for Kobayashi he was no match for the Explosive Thin Man, and was stopped in the 5th round by the Nicaraguan great.
4-On the mention of Arguello it's worth noting just how good Kobayashi's competition was and he faced 3 IBHOF fighters in the space of 36 months. The first of those was Arguello, in October 1975, then came Wilfredo Gomez in January 1978 before Eusebio Pedroza in January 1979!
5-In the introduction we mentioned that Kobayashi was "a short term WBC Super Bantamweight champion" and we really do mean that. He has one of the shortest reigns world title reigns in modern history, holding the belt for his 46 days, not including the day he lost it. He won the belt on October 9th 1976, when he stopped Rigoberto Riasco at the Kokugikan in Tokyo and lost it on November 24th 1976, to Korean Dong Kyun Yum.
6-Kobayashi was the first Japanese Olympian to win a world title.
7-Kobayashi's world title win came just a day before Yoko Gushiken won the WBA Light Flyweight title, with that win coming on October 10th 1976.
8-Kobayashi birth name was Kazuo Kobayashi, a name that is shared with a Japanese journalist born in 1940 and a former Japanese politician, born in 1935.
9-We've already mentioned that Kobayashi was the first Japanese world champion to have fought at the Olympics but he is also the first Japanese champion to have graduated university.
10-As a professional Kobayashi was managed by the International gym, which as run by former world title challenger Yoshinori Takahashi, who took on Eddie Perkins for the WBA and WBC Light Welterweights in 1964. Kobayashi was one of 3 champions from the gym, which also lead Leopard Tamakuma and Celes Kobayashi to world titles.
(Image courtesy of http://jpba.gr.jp/)
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 Filipino prospect Jade Bornea...and former Japanese amateur standout Eiji Morioka
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-The talented Jade Bornea was a former amateur standout, and in March 2013 he claimed the gold medal at the Asian Youth Championships in Subic Bay, Philippines. In the final Bornea took a razor thin decision over Japan's Kosei Tanaka.
2-Japan's 3-weight world Japan Kosei Tanaka has been a real star Chubu, where he has become the local face of boxing, and helped to re-establish a scene had really been lead in the early 1990's by his promoter Kiyoshi Hatanaka.
3-Although not amazingly well remembered now Kiyoshi Hatanaka was a really key figure in boxing in Chubu, despite only fighting 24 times in a career that lasted about 7 years. His career was highlighted by 3 fights in particular, his loss to Gilberto Roman in 1988, his 1991 win over Pedro Decima and his 1991 loss to Daniel Zaragoza. The win over Decima was the win the defines his career, and saw him claim the WBC Super Bantamweight title.
4-Another Japanese fighter to win the WBC Super Bantamweight title was the legendary Kazuo "Royal" Kobayashi.
5-"Royal" Kobayashi may only have had a short reign, holding the belt for 46 days, but he had already made a name for himself before even turning professional. He had made a mark on the amateurs ranks, reaching the quarter-finals of the 1972 Olympics at 57KG's. Another fighter who fought at 57KG's in the 1972 Olympics was Philip Waruinge, who won the Silver medal.
6-Philip Waruinge, who fought in Japan as Waruinge Nakayama, Didn't just fight at the 1972 Olympics , in fact that was actually Waruinge's second Olympics, after also competing at, and winning a medal at, the 1968 games in Mexico City. Another man who claimed a medal at the 1968 Olympics was Eiji Morioka! In fact Morioka and Waruinge both claimed bronze medals at the 1968 Olympic games! Morioka's career in the ring wasn't the best, with the Japanese fighter going 6-4 (3) though his impact has been felt, and still, thanks to the Morioka Gym that he set up in 1978.
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).