The sport of boxing is full of tragic fighters, one of the most tragic was Korean fighter Yo Sam Choi who's death in 2008 took away the last flame of Korean boxing. Choi was a hero of the sport in his homeland, and a genuinely popular figure who put the sport first when many in the country had left the sport.
Today we look at 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Yo Sam Choi, and add a few extra facts for good measure for a Korean warrior who really was taken before his time.
1-Born on March 1st 1972 Choi was the 5th of 6 children in the family
2-On January 17th 1994 Choi won the South Korean Light Flyweight Rookie of the Year crown, thanks to his win over Sang-Chul Lee. Incredibly that was Choi's third bout in 7 days!
3-According to multiple Korean sources Choi's bout on October 22nd 1994, which is listed on boxrec as being against "unknown" at the time of writing, came against Filipino journeyman Lee Escobido.
4-Choi's world title win 1999 against Saman Sorjaturong saw the Korean suffer a broken jaw.
5-There was a plans for Choi to defend his WBC Light Flyweight in December 2000 and in Pyongyang, in what was supposed to be a rematch with Saman Sorjaturong. The venue had been selected, as the Pyongyang Indoor Gymnasium but the event fell through when the broadcaster pulled out, with some Korean sources also reporting that the promoter of the event, had passed away.
6-In a 2001 interview with Choi's then promoter Madam Yongja Shim, it was revealed that there had been an offer for $500,000 for Choi to face Ricardo Lopez from Don King. Madam Yongja Shim, stated that she turned it down, and asked for $1,000,000
7-Choi's 2002 bout with Shingo Yamaguchi was put together at short notice after financial issues lead to Choi needing to defend the title or be stripped. The sponsorship issues had lead to a planned June 2001 bout with Jorge Arce falling through, with that bout taking place more than a year after it had originally been planned. Interestingly Yamaguchi was promoted by Katsuo Tokashiki, who also promoted the fight in Chiba. This was an interesting aside as Tokashiki was himself known by Korean fans for his bouts in the 1980's against the likes of Sung Nam Kim, Hwan Jin Kim and Jung Koo Chang.
8-To prepare for his 2002 bout with Jorge Arce Choi trained in the Philippines and did over 140 rounds of sparring. Following his title loss to Arce in Choi began to be trained by Korean legend Jung Koo Chang, himself a former WBC Light Flyweight champion.
9-Choi would pass away after suffering a fatal injury in his win against Heri Amol in 2007. Although Choi was declared brain dead on January 2nd 2008 his ventilator wasn't switched off until the following day. This was at the request of Choi's mother.
10-The Leessang song "Champion" was dedicated to Choi, who was friends with the two members of the Korean hip-hop due. It was part of their 2009 album released just over a year after Choi's death.
Extra fact 1 - According to the Korean press there was several times where Choi wasn't paid to fight, with Choi himself explaining that "money is not important".
Extra fact 2 -Several reports in Korea suggest that the plan for 2008, was for Choi to challenge WBO Flyweight champion Omar Andres Narvaez. Of course due to Choi's untimely passing those plans never came to fruition.
Extra fact 3 - Following his death Choi's organs were donated, the 6 recipients. In total his heart, liver, kidney's and corneas were removed for donation. Sadly organ donation is still incredibly low in South Korea, though reports suggest that people are more open to it now than they were when Choi's organs were donated.
Extra fact 4 - In 2010 the hospital that treated Choi before his death lost a legal case to Choi's mother, due to their failure to provide proper first aid to Choi. Reports suggest that they were made to pay as much as ₩15,000,000 (South Korean Won). They weren't found responsible for his death, but were found to have failed in it's duty of care. His passing also saw changes to law in Korean medical law.
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).