Best Boxers from Japan in Boxing History
Today, Japan is home to one of the fiercest collections of boxing fans on the planet. With a thriving boxing scene, albeit largely below featherweight corridors, many of the sport’s best smaller fighters are Japanese. In boxing’s past, the same holds true, and the sport is littered with all time Japanese greats who are amongst the finest to lace up the gloves.
- Fighting Harada (Career: 1960-1970): Wins over excellent contenders and champions like Hiroyuki Ebihara, Pone Kingpetch, Jose Medel, and Alan Rudkin certainly help Harada’s cause, as does winning titles at flyweight and bantamweight. However, it is his two wins over legend Eder Jofre that put him rarefied air—being the only man to defeat the great Brazilian champion in 78 fights. The Hall of Famer is one of the all-time greats at 112 and 118.
- Yoko Gushiken (Career: 1974-1981): An aggressive, unpredictable, and tireless southpaw who was the first ultra-successful 108-pounder in division history. “Fierce Eagle” won 14 title bouts from 1976-1980, as his charisma and fighting spirit made him a tremendous draw. The huge-afroed Japanese only lost his final fight, against a foe he defeated 5 months previously. Prior to that, he beat the best in his division.
- Jiro Watanabe (Career: 1979-1986): One of the best 115-pounders ever, the cerebral southpaw racked up 13 title-fight wins during his championship run (1982-1986). Defeated a very solid, albeit obscure, list of contenders, even unifying the titles in 1984. It took a boxing genius in the form of Mexican great Gilberto Roman to finally unseat the long-reigning Watanabe in 1986.
- Masamori Tokuyama (Career: 1994-2006): The Tokyo-born North Korean Tokuyama (real name: Chang-soo Hong) found success in the Land of the Sun, compiling one of the more underrated resumes in recent memory. Began his career at 12-2, before winning all but one of his remaining 24 fights and that against a fighter he twice defeated. A pair of wins over In-Joo Cho, in addition to victories over Hiroki Ioka, Dmitry Kirilov and Jose Navarro shows his class, but a pair of decisions over top Filipino world champion Gerry Penalosa looms very large.
- Masao Ohba (Career: 1966-1973): Another in a long line of gifted young fighters whose careers were cut tragically short. Just like Salvador Sanchez, died at 23 while pushing the envelope in a juiced-up sports car. His 35-2-1 record includes an impressive run as WBA Flyweight Champion from 1970 to 1973—the year of his death. Wins over well-regarded flyweight championship timber such as Betulio Gonzalez (W 15) and Chartchai Chionoi (KO 12) point toward potential greatness that never had the chance to fully blossom.
Hopefully you enjoyed our list of the best boxers from Japan in the history of the sport. Some of these guys could make the cut for just about any of the countries in the world, giving great pride to the history of Japanese boxing.