One of the fighters we had several requests to cover in this series was hard hitting Russian Yuri Arbachakov. In the late 1980's he was one of the best amateurs on the planet and later become a dominant force in the professional as a long term WBC and Lineal Flyweight champion.
Although a lot is written and said about Arbachakov, who opened the door for a lot of Soviet fighters, there is a lot of interesting things hidden below the surface. Today we look at some of those things as we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about...Yuri Arbachakov
1-As an amateur Arbachakov was an absolute monster. His amateur record was 165-21 and he would completely dominate in 1989 winning the Soviet, European and World Championships. That career defining year had followed him being over looked for the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, where Timofey Skryabin, an eventual bronze medal winner, was sent instead.
2-Arbachakov was one of a number of fighters from the then USSR to sign with Kyoei, helped in part by professional wrestling icon Antonio Inoki, himself a friend of the then head of Kyoei and a man who play a part in helping Kyoei sign a number of fighters over the years. The only other former USSR fight to go on to have a world right from the group was Orzubek Nazarov. This was all done under the perestroika program and he was reportedly paid around $2,200 a month to join Kyoei and train with them.
3-As a professional Arbachakov fought as "Yuri Chakov", "Yuri Ebihara" and "Yuri Arbachakov. He was also dubbed the "Russian Hitman". The name Yuri Ebihara wasn't liked by the fighter, due to a number of reason including it sounding a lot like a naughty word in Russian, but was meant as an homage to former Kyoei world champion Hiroyuki Ebihara. The original Ebihara was a former Flyweight world champion himself, and he sadly died in 1991, the year after Arbachakov made his professional debut. This would be one of a number of issues between Kyoei and Arbachakov during his time with the Japanese promoter.
4-In just his 6th professional bout Arbachakov stopped former world champion Rolando Bohol, at the time this was only the second time Bohol had been stopped, with the first coming just over 2 years earlier to Duke McKenzie in an IBF world title fight.
5-In 1991 Arbachakov was supposed to have a Japanese Flyweight title fight with Puma Toguchi, as part of the Champion Carnival, but issues between Toguchi and his promoter lead to Toguchi being stripped of the title, and later take an extended break from the ring. In 1996 the two men would finally face off, with Arbachakov stopping Toguchi in 9 rounds to retain the WBC Flyweight title. Interestingly their 1991 bout had a date set, and posters made, and tickets sold, before the fight fell through. As a result Arbachakov would fight Takahiro Mizuno for the vacant title almost 4 months after the planned showdown with Toguchi. The poster for this originally planned bout can be seen below.
6-On the under-card of Arbachakov's WBC Flyweight title win against Muangchai Kittikasem at the at the Kokugikan, was Mickey Rourke! The American actor, who was 39 at the time, scored an opening round win over the very poor Darrell Miller. The win moved Rourke to 2-0-1 (1) and saw Miller fall to 11-40-5 (3) and it was the 23rd time Miller had been stopped.
7-Arbachakov would become the first Russian world champion in 1992 when he stopped Kittikasem, and stills holds the record for most defenses of a Flyweight world title by a Japanese managed fighter, with 9 defenses.
8-Arbachakov is pictured on the album cover of Sharan Q's debut album "Explosion! Hennachoko Punch". Those with eagle eyes will spot Yuri is wearing a WBA title in the image, that belt is borrowed from Katsuya Onizuka, as Yuri's own WBC title hadn't arrived by the time of the photo shoot. This album cover can be seen below.
9- After retirement Arbachakov that he didn't believe he could be a world champion.
10-Arbachakov married a Japanese woman in 1996
Extra Fact 1 - There is an amateur tournament held in Arbachakov's name, that's the "Yuriy Arbachakov Prizes National Tournament", which has been held in Kemerovo, Russia.
Extra Fact 2 - Arbachakov regularly criticised Kyoei for the way they treat him, and the other international fighters. He told the press that they were forced to live in cheap apartments and were reportedly treat badly, even as world champions.
Extra Fact 3 - Despite fighting his final bout in 1997 it was over a year later before Arbachakov would have his retirement ceremony, which took place in February 1999 at Korakuen Hall. His retirement came, in part, to chronic hand issues after breaking his hand in his bout with Puma Toguchi.
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 former Flyweight world champions Yong Kang Kim and Yuri Arbachakov
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-Korean fighter Yong Kang Kim is a former WBC and WBA Flyweight champion. If we were to connect these two men in the quickest way, both were WBC champions and both beat Sot Chitalada. Instead of that, lets go around the houses a bit more. Kim made his debut on April 6th 1985. On the same day Meldrick Taylor won his 4th professional bout, beating Elias Martinez in Texas.
2-American fighter Meldrick Taylor is well known globally for his 1990 loss to Julio Cesar Chavez, in what was the Ring Magazine Fight of the Year and one of the most divisive bouts in history, with the stoppage coming in the final seconds. That bout was refereed by Richard Steele.
3-The legendary Richard Steele was the third man in the ring for Manny Pacquiao's bout with Gabriel Mira in 1999. That bout took place at the Araneta Coliseum in Metro Manila.
4-The Araneta Coliseum hosted a number of big fights over the years, including the Thrilla In Manila in 1975, another Ring Magazine Fight of the Year. That bout, of course, was the final bout in the rivalry between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
5-Muhammad Ali only fought a single bout in Japan, that was his 1972 clash with Mac Foster. Interestingly that bout took place at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo.
6-The Nippon Budokan also played host to a single bout featuring Yuri Arbachakob, that was his 1994 fight against the then unbeaten Chatchai Sasakul, in the first of the two clashes between the two men, who also rematched in 1997 with Sasakul getting revenge over the Japanese based Russian.
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).