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 Thai great Samart Payakaroon to former Filipino world champion Marvin Sonsona.
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-Thailand's Samart Payakaroon is often regarded as one of, if not the, greatest Muay Thai fighter ever, and was also a success in professional boxing, winning the WBC Super Bantamweight title in 1986 when he defeated Lupe Pintor in just his 12th professional bout. Interesting Payakaroon was one of the fighters who won the now defunct Ring Magazine "Progress of the Year" award. The award was essentially finished in 1988 after Michael Nunn won it, and hasn't been seen since. Interestingly Payakaroon was one of a number of Asian fighters who won this award over the years, with another being Shozo Saijo, who won it in 1968.
2-As a professional fighter Shozo Saijo had a short career, running from 1964 to 1971, but achieved a lot during those years, and managed to squeeze in 38 professional bouts. His most notable achievement wasn't just winning the WBA Featherweight title in 1968 but doing so on American soil, making him the first Japanese fighter to win a world title away from home. The next Japanese fighter to win a world title on the road was Kuniaki Shibata, who actually achieved the feat twice.
3-Between 1965 and 1977 Kuniaki Shibata ran up an excellent 47-6-3 (25) record and was a 3-time world champion, the first Japanese fighter to achieve that feat. He is best known for his exploits at world level, which included huge wins over Vicente Saldivar, Ben Villaflor and Ricardo Arredondo. Before he'd even won a world title however he had suffered 2 professional losses, including one to often forgotten Korean Hubert Kang.
4-Korean fighter Hubert Kang was a stalwart of the Korean scene from the mid 1960's to the late 1970's. During his long career he fought a lot of notable fighters including the now often forgotten Wongso Suseno, the first ever Indonesian fighter to win an international title.
5-As mentioned Wongo Suseno won an international title, the OPBF Light Welterweight title, in 1975. He successfully defended the belt twice before losing it in 1977 to Filipino Moises Cantoja. Another fighter who later went on to win that very same title was Filipino Morris East, who won the title in 1992 with a brilliant win over Pyung Sub Kim in South Korea.
6-Sadly Morris East will always be a case of "what could have been?" He won the WBA Light Welterweight title in 1992 with a huge upset win over Akinobu Hiranaka, at the age of just 19, and is still the youngest Filipino to ever win a world title. Another "what could have been?" for Filipino boxing is that of Marvin Sonsona, who also won a world title as a teenager, and failed to build on his world title win, which happened in 2009.
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).