Whilst doing some research for something else back in 2020 we stumbled on Shigeji Kaneko's name and after a little bit of research on Kaneko we decided, one day, that we would look into his career and life and try to shine a light on him. Whilst it's taken us a while to do that, we're glad to finally talk about Kaneko, at long last.
Although not a big name Kaneko was a notable fighter in the 1950's, fighting from 1950 to 1958. During that time he amassed a very impressive 51-10-1 (31) record, had scored a number of big wins and was very much a key Featherweight player of the era. He never fought for a world title, but did share the ring with several legends of the sport.
With that introduction out of the way, let us bring you the latest in the 5 Midweek Facts series by looking at Shigeji Kaneko, and his life and career!
1-Kaneko's nickname was the fantastic "Enchanted puncher"
2-As a fighter Kaneko was genuinely a distinguished boxer. He not only won the OPBF Featherweight title, becoming the first Japanese fighter to win an OPBF title, but also won the Distinguished Prize award in 1953, the Fighting Spirit Award in 1954 and was a 2-time Japanese Best Fighter award winner, in 1955 and 1956. Impressively he proved his ability against legendary Filipino Flash Elorde, going 4-0 against Elorde. In 2003 was honoured in the Philippines by being awarded the Gabriel "Flash" Elorde Memorial Trophy.
3-Sadly Kaneko's career to an end when he was only 27. That was due to a retinal detachment that forced him to leave the sport following a win over Saburo Otaki in November 1958.
4-Following his retirement from in ring activity Kaneko worked as a trainer before opening up the Kaneko gym, which is still running today. The gym was passed on to his eldest sons in 2004, with one son being the chairman and another being a manager and trainer. Early on the gym was best known for guiding Eijiro Murata to 4 world title fights, and would also guide the likes of Kevin Palmer and Kenji Iwata. In recent years it's also been the gym in charge of Hidenori Otake in recent years.
5-Kaneko passed away in early 2016. Whilst it's reported in the West that his death was down to pneumonia it seems likely that his pneumonia was caused by progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), which is what Japanese news sources reported was his cause of death.
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).