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 Hideyuki Ohashi to Shinji Takehara!
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-Japanese Hideyuki Ohashi has become well known as one of the most well respected promoters in Asian boxing, prior to becoming a promoter however he was a very successful professional fighter. Interestingly he went to the same University as Shinsuke Yamanaka, who was actually the first graduate from the University to win a world title as Ohashi actually dropped out.
2-During his lengthy reign as the WBC Bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka scored a stoppage win over former WBC Flyweight champion Malcolm Tunacao.
3-Malcolm Tunacao was only stopped twice during his long career. One of those was the aforementioned loss to Shinsuke Yamanaka and the other was an opening round loss to Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, who stopped Tunacao to claim the WBC Flyweight.
4-Talented Thai Pongsaklek Wonjongkam didn't just stop Tunacao inside a round but also his biggest rival, Daisuke Naito. Wonjongkam famously fought Naito 4 times during one of the more notable Flyweight rivalries of recent years.
5-Although Daisuke Naito lost twice to Pongsaklek Wonjongkam he would go on to defeat the Thai in their third bout and fight to a draw with the Thai in their final bout. Another man Naito fought to a draw with was Takefumi Sakata.
6-Whilst Takefumi Sakata isn't a hugely well known name in the West he was a pretty notable fighter in Japan and was one of the stars of the Kyoei. Notably however before he signed for the Kyoei gym he had actually been training at the gym run by former WBA Shinji Takehara!
(Images - JPBA)
Japanese fighters are usually associated with the lower weight classes, however there are a few fighters who have made a mark in and around the Middleweight division, such as Ryota Murata, Nobuhiro Ishida and Shinji Takehara (24-1, 18).
In the 1995 Takehara became the first Japanese fighter to win a world Middleweight title, and although his reign was short he is certainly a man who made his mark in boxing history. Whilst his place is known, at least by hardcore fans, there is a lot that isn't widely known about Takehara, so with that in mind, we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Shinji Takehara
1-Before taking up boxing he had enrolled at a Judo club. Interestingly his father actually ran a boxing gym in Hiroshima, and forced a young Shinji to attend due to his misbehaviour
2-Takehara failed to get into high school, failing to pass several entrance exams as a youngster.
3-Prior to making his professional debut Takehara had worked at the Yokohama Arena, the same venue that he fought William Joppy at in 1996.
4-Altough not many of Takehara's opponents are well known in the west he did have 3 domestic foes on his record which are worthy of note. He was the only man to beat Hisashi Teraji, the father of Kenshiro, he beat 2-time world title challenger Yoshinori Nishizawa and he holds a win over Biney Martin, who is now one of the most highly regarded referees in Japan.
5-Takehara was involved in a very rare double knockdown in September 1995. It came in the 8th round of his second bout with Sung Chun Lee as both men landed huge left hooks at the same time. This was just months before he fought in his career defining bout with Jorge Castro, which he won by decision to claim the WBA Middleweight title
6-When he won the WBA Middleweight title he was only the second man from the Oriental region to have achieved the feat, following in the footsteps of Filipino Ceferino Garcia, who had accomplished the same feat 46 years earlier!
7-Takehara runs a gym with close friend Takanori Hatakeyama, called the T&H Boxer Fitness Gym. The gym is a professionally licensed boxing gym and has guided a number of professionals through their career, including Naoko Fujioka.
8-Takehara was forced into retirement due to a detached retina. It's assumed the issues had actually effected him prior to his final fight, against William Joppy, but hadn't been diagnosed until after the fight.
9-Following his retirement from the ring Takehara had gone into acting, but was unable to get a significant amount of work, so worked part time in a tanning salon. Since then he has set up health brands and sold things like a sweat suit, trainers and diet foods. His "30upDIET" product was selling 20,000 items a day in it's peak thanks to QVC's mail order.
10-In 2014 Takehara was diagnosed with bladder cancer. That conditioned worsened as it spread to his lymph nodes, though thanks to treatment he is now in remission.
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).