When we talk about significant figures in Japanese boxing there are few that are as important in recent Japanese boxing history as former WBC Light Welterweight champion Tsuyoshi Hamada (21-2, 19), one of the very few Japanese fighters to win a world title at 140lbs. As a fighter he was a star, a real hit with fans and a man who has a massive following. His exciting, aggressive style, brutal power and short thrilling fights.
During a career that spanned from 1979 to 1987 he drew massive crowds and TV figures. Following his career in the ring he has remained a popular figure, working for TV and is often regarded as the public face of Teiken Promotions, appearing at press conference for the promotional powerhouse. Even now, in his 60's, he strikes an imposing figure and gives off the vibe of a man you do not ignore.
Whilst perhaps not too well known in the west, he is regarded very, very highly by those in Japanese boxing, and with that in mind we thought he was an ideal fighter to feature in this weeks 10 facts you probably didn't know about... series!
1-Hamada was in a huge family, of 21 people living together. Whilst his family unity was huge, he did struggle to get attention and was the youngest of 7 of siblings!
2-Hamada began boxing when he was at elementary school, and was involved in sparring competitions under the watchful eye of his older brother Yuji. Even as a young kid his power was impressive and he is said to hit harder than school kids several years older than himself.
3-As an amateur Hamada racked up an impressive record of 37-6 (28), and won the inter-High School tournament whilst he was in his third year at the Okinawa Fisheries High School in Okinawa.
4-When Hamada turned professional he also got a job at a publishers called "KK Bestsellers", which were also a sponsor for the Teiken Gym.
5-During his 24 fight professional career Hamada fought just 98 professional rounds. This means his fights, on average, went just over 4 rounds. These included 19 rounds in his final 3 bouts, all at world level. Amazingly 16 of his bouts went 5 or fewer rounds, and only 3 of his bouts went beyond the start of round 9!
6-During his career Hamada picked up numerous awards at the Japanese boxing annual awards. They included the KO Award 3 times (1981, 1984 and 1985), the Skill Award twice (1984 and 1985), the Effort Award (1983), the Best Player Award (1986) and the Best Fight Award (1986 for his first bout with Rene Arrdondo).
7-After losing the WBC Light Welterweight title, in his second defense, to Rene Arredondo the plan was for a third bout between Hamada and Arredondo. Those plans were scrapped for two reasons. One of those was that Arredondo had lost the title, with the other reason being that Hamada was himself in bad health, with a knee injury that would have limited his ability to fight at 100%.
8-Hamada regularly used a Japanese cover to Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out for a Hero", recorded by Yuki Katsuragi and Miki Asakura
9-Whilst it was known that Hamada never drank or smoked during his career, it's said that he still doesn't do either of those activities. His behaviour is said to be model behaviour and something that is, at least partially, expected to rub off on the youngsters coming through the ranks at the Teiken gym.
10-Following his retirement he has been a regular working on TV for both NTV, under their "World Premium Boxing" series, and WOWOW, for their "Excite Match" series of broadcasts. As a commentator he is regarded as being calm and accurate with what he says and being a very insightful analyst.
Bonus fact- Hamada is currently the president of a health food company.
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 fighters from opposite ends of the scales, going from former Light Welterweight champion Tsuyoshi Hamada to former multi-time Thai world champion Chartchai Chionoi.
1-Hard hitting Japanese slugger Tsuyoshi Hamada was a huge punching force of nature through much of the 1980's. Although not too well remembered in the west he was a real star in Japan and has continued to be involved in boxing as one of the major players at Teiken. Hamada held the WBC Light Welterweight title for just under a year, winning it in July 1986 and losing it the following July, at the Kokugikan.
2-The Kokugikan played host to an interesting card in February 2001 headlined by an amazing bout between Takanori Hatakeyama and Rick Yoshimura. Also on that February card was Mexican American Urbano Antillon, fighting in his second professional bout.
3-Although not a major name Urbano Antillon is an interesting fighter who fought between 2000 and 2013, with his most notable bouts being his losses to Miguel Acosta, Humberto Soto and Brandon Rios.
4-Despite being a limited fighter Brandon Rios was also a tough and fun fighter to watch, and his first two bouts with Mike Alvarado were fantastic wars. Their third was significantly worse. Interestingly after those first two Alvarado bouts Rios found himself in the ring with Filipino great Manny Pacquiao.
5-The legendary Manny Pacquiao has long been the face of Filipino boxing and has been a multi-weight champion and a generational talent. Pacquiao's first world title was the WBC Flyweight title, which he won back in 1998 when he stopped Chatchai Sasakul in 8 rounds.
6-Chatchai Sasakul wasn't the only Thai to lose the WBC Flyweight title in 8 rounds. Way back in 1969 Chartchai Chionoi also lost the WBC Flyweight title in 8 rounds, when he was stopped by Mexican rival Efren Torres. Thankfully for Chionoi he get the last laugh, beating Torres for the title 13 months later to reclaim the belt!
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).