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 a former Thai world champion to a former Japanese world, as we connect Venice Borkhorsor and Japanese bad boy Jiro Watanabe.
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-In the early 1970's Venice Borkhorsor was the WBC Flyweight champion, winning the belt in 1972 before vacating it to move up in weight. Another Thai southpaw who held that title was Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, who pretty much monopolised the title during his pomp.
2-The legendary Pongsaklek Wonjongkam had a number of notable rivals, but his biggest rivalry was with Daisuke Naito. The two men fought 4 times during their rivalry, and it really was a well matched 4 bout series.
3-Talking about 4 bout series between Thai and Japanese fights at world level it's impossible not to mention just how amazing the 4 fight series between Veeraphol Sahaprom and Toshiaki Nishioka. That series saw the two men battling for the WBC Bantamweight title, and although Nishioka failed to win any of the 4 bouts it helped establish him as a top contender, and helped further strengthen Veeraphol's reputation as an top tier fighter.
4-Another legendary rivalry at Bantamweight was between the iconic pairing of Eder Jofre and Fighting Harada, both of whom are widely considered the best their nations have ever had. Jofre, a brilliant Brazilian, only ever lost to Harada, with both of his defeats coming to the Japanese great.
5-Prior to beating Eder Jofre for the unified Bantamweight titles Fighting Harada had already established himself as a solid fighter and had previously won the WBA Flyweight title, way back in 1962, more than 2 years before his first bout with Jofre. Prior to winning a world title however Harada's first notable achievement as a professional was winning the 1960 All Japan Rookie of the Year, beating future friend and world champion Hiroyuki Ebihara in the final.
6-Another All Japan Rookie of the Year Flyweight winner, who beat a future world champion in the final, was Jiro Watanabe. Watanabe won the 1980 tournament, stopping future WBC Flyweight champion Koji Kobayashi in the final.
(Images courtesy of JPBF and Komthai)
One of the great things about running this site is that people get in contact about fighters who we never expected would get too much interest. Back in December one such reader got in touch about former WBC Flyweight champion Venice Borkhorsor, who held the WBC Flyweight title in the early 1970's, before vacating the title and moving up in weight. Despite being a world, OPBF and Thai champion he was never someone who was particularly on our radar and not someone who'd really figured there much interest in, but there was so little information out there about him.
Whilst he's certainly not one of the big names of Thai boxing his place in history is significant, and he's certainly a fighter who deserves more attention that he's got over the years. With that in mind we thought he was the perfect fighter to include in our "10 facts you probably didn't know about..." series. So here we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Venice Borkhorsor".
1-Borkhorsor comes from a family of fighters, with his Grandfather, brother and uncle all reportedly being fighters, though it appears they were all Muay Thai.
2-Borkhorsor was the first Thai world champion to fight as a southpaw. Incidentally he was the 4th Thai to win a world title, and like the previous 3 he was a Flyweight champion.
3-Sadly for Borkhorsor he simply out grew the Flyweight division, ending his reign after just a single defense. The move up really did hamper his success, even more so when he moved up to Super Bantamweight in the later stages of his career. In his first 35 bouts he lost just once, in his 10th professional bout, but went 15-7 in his final 22. Whilst that did coincide with facing generally better competition losses to Saul Montana and Neptali Alamag and Detkat Kiatboonyong do stand out as being losses to weaker opponents than the fighters he had beaten at Flyweight
4-Although Borkhorsor only made a single defense of the WBC Flyweight title it was a notable one for Thailand, as he defeated Filipino fighter Erbito Salavarria. The talented Salavarria had not only beaten Chartchai Chionoi, taking the WBC Flyweight title from Thailand's second world champion, but had also beaten Berkrerk Chartvanchai, taking Chartvanchai's unbeaten record. Incidentally Chartvanchai would go on to become Thailand's third world champion! Rather coincidentally Salavarria's final bout, in 1978, came against Netrnoi Sor Vorasingh, the 6th world champion from Thailand.
5-Despite being relatively unknown today Borkhorsor was a bit of a globe trotter. Not only did he fight in Thailand but also in Mexico, USA, South Korea, Australia, Venezuala, South Korea and the Philippines.
6-Borkhorsor world title win in 1972, when he stopped the fantastic Betulio Gonzalez, had more than 30,000 people in attendance. Included in those was the Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej, who shook his hand after the bout. The two would meet again following the bout, when the fighter was invited to the King's palace and was famously pictured with the king.
7-At the time of writing Borkhorsor is the only one of the first 6 Thai world champions to still be alive. When we think about that it's actually quite sad, especially given the 6th champion Netrnoi Sor Vorasingh, was only 23 when he passed away in 1982.
8-Following his boxing career Borkhorsor has had an interesting life. He worked an office job, started a recruitment company, which failed, and later became an ordained monk, in the. He has also helped train boxers, including Oley Kiatoneway.
9-In 2014 Borkhorsor looked to become a politician, though wasn't elected.
10-Sadly the latest reports from Thailand reveal that Borkhorsor is currently living in poverty, receiving support from the Thai government and the WBC, though together the payments provided certainly aren't huge amounts. In part the financial situation is due to the failure of the recruitment company he set up.
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).