The WBC Super Flyweight title has had a lot of attention in recent years thanks to the likes of Carlos Cuadras, Roman Gonzalez, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Juan Francisco Estrada all holding the title and fighting for it in front of a US audience. Before those men had their reigns the title was held by the often forgotten Yota Sato (26-3-1, 12).
Sato's reign with the WBC title was a short one, in the early 2010's but his personality, style and and out of the ring activities certainly makes him an interesting character. His in ring career may have only lasted for 9 years, and he was only 29 when he retired, but he's still a figure that we find intriguing. His style wasn't the most fun to watch but it was effective and lead to him scoring wins against the likes of Kohei Kono, Kenji Oba, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Silvester Lopez and Ryo Akaho.
With that said let us bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know... Yota Sato
1-Whilst "Yota Sato" is his real name, unlike with some fighters, the Sato is actually an adopted surname. He took the name from his grandmother's friend
2-Sato dropped out of the Tohoku Gakuin University in Sendai.
3-As an amateur Sato went 22-10 (2), including 2 losses to Toshiyuki Igarashi. He chose not to remain an amateur foe a prolonged period as he felt that amateur conventions didn't suit him as a person.
4-In August 2011 Sato was supposed to unify the Japanese Super Flyweight title with the OPBF title held by Ryo Akaho. This bout fell through when Akaho suffered an injury as a result Sato fought Yoshihito Ishizaki. In 2012 Sato would finally face Akaho, with Sato defending the WBC Super Flyweight title against his countryman.
5-A day after winning the WBC Super Flyweight title Sato was stopped by a police officer wanting to know what he did for a job. He was sporting a heavily swollen and bruised face at the time and had a spanner in a rucksack, leading the police officer to question him for around 10 minutes before letting him go on his way...to the press conference to talk about his win over Suriyan Sor Rungvisai a day earlier.
6-Even after winning the WBC Super Flyweight world title Sato continued to work at a gas station. The fighter had been working there since his teens, being paid ￥1000 per hour and he had revealed in interviews than he genuinely loved working there and was proud of being given the responsibility he had there.
7-Sato's reign as the WBC Super Flyweight champion came to an end in May 2013, when he travelled to Thailand and was stopped in 8 rounds by the then unknown Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. That loss would lead to Srisaket's first reign, and his less well remembered one. Srisaket's second reign would famously start when he ended the long unbeaten run of Roman Gonzalez in a massive upset in 2017. The loss to Srisaket would not only end Sato's reign but also his in ring career. He would announced his retirement in June 2013, and then return to the ring for his retirement exhibition on November 20th with former opponent Kohei Kono at Korakuen Hall
8-We mentioned that Sato had a spanner with him when he was questioned by the police after his title win, that was actually with him for skateboard maintenance. He's a really big skateboarder.
9-Outside of the ring not only does Sato spend his spare time skateboarding he also has pets. In 2012 he revealed he had bought himself a Tortoise to add to the fish, turtles, reptiles and lizards that he already had.
10-In 2014 Sato became the manager of a restaurant.
All too often during these "Tales from the East" segments we talk about serious, and often depressing things. Deaths, suicides, lives taken too soon. Today however we get to talk about a fun and interesting story from 2012 that we don't think many would have heard about, at least not those outside of Japan.
On March 28th 2012 a man was pulled over by the police as the Seibu-Shinjuku Station. He was asked to explain what he did for a living, as he looked rather suspicious.
The man in question was sporting a seriously bruised and swollen face, rather unkempt hair, tattoos on his arm, wearing some sports clothes and was carrying a ruck sack with a spanner in it. He looked, for all intents, like a man who had, perhaps, been involved in a bit of a fight. Or was planning revenge for what had been done to him.
Unbeknowst to the police officer the man in question had indeed been in a big fight. In fact just a day earlier he had been in a world title fight at the Korakuen Hall. He had been stopped by the police officer on his way to a press conference, to talk about his big win the day before. He didn't want to start the conversation by telling the police man that he was a newly crowned boxing world champion, after all the fighter in question was known to be reserved and quite shy. Even if he was more confident, if the policeman didn't recognise him, it would likely seem like a lie to just blurt out that he was a world champion. Seemingly he didn't feel like he was famous enough to tell them who he was and instead spent 10 minutes answering questions from them.
For those wonder, that man was Yota Sato, who, just a day earlier, had beaten Suriyan Sor Rungvisai to win the WBC Super Flyweight title, shocking the talented Thai with 2 knockdowns to secure the win.
Whilst he may have explained his job, and why he was looking bruised and beaten, and even where he was going, you may be wondering why exactly did he have a spanner?
Well Sato might be a world class boxer but his big out of the ring hobby was skateboarding. He had the spanner to help tighten things on his board. Not to clobber people with.
So, a day after he won the WBC Super Flyweight title, Yota Sato was stopped by a policeman wanting explanations as to why he looked like he had been in a fight.
Apparently Sato was actually stopped again a few weeks later, though this time he was carrying his WBC Super Flyweight title around with him, helping to explain that he was indeed a world champion.
Interestingly this isn't actually a one off. There was also a case where Takahiro Ao, the then WBC Super Featherweight, was questioned by police in regards to bike thefts in Oji. Rather funnily Ao had previously been put in the position to be the Chief of the Kashiwa station for a day, meaning he had been in a "higher position" than the officer questioning him.
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).