By Joe Koizumi
The Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) has disclosed that 276 promotions happened here in Japan in 2008. If you divide this figure by 365 (a year), you see it 75%, which showed there were three boxing shows in every four days in average. The number of bouts was 2,245 in total.
Officially licensed are 2,669 Japanese boxers and 151 foreign fighters. Including unlicensed and amateur boxers, it is said there are boxers (including training boys) approximately ten times of the JBC-licensed boxers, that is, some 25,000 boxers here in Japan.
Out of 276 promotions, we saw 160 shows in Tokyo area, 126 of which took place at the Korakuen Hall to prove it is really the mecca of boxing here. 1,067 bouts, including preliminary games, were held at the Hall last year.
The statistics might show boxing is very popular in Japan, but boxing is apparently declining with sparse crowds at many shows. As we have some 100 licensed promoters, they have been struggling to keep promoting to cultivate their own boys.
Since our economy is under recession, it is a fact that we, in 2008, decreased booking foreign boxers but increased games of Japanese compatriots. For example, Ring Japan, Inc., an international matchmaking company, did matchmaking only 107 bouts of Japanese versus foreign boxers in 2008 in comparison with 171 games in 2007, 209 in 2006, and 170 in 2005.
We have six world champs in Japan; WBA lightweight Yusuke Kobori, WBA super-feather Jorge Linares, WBC super-bantam Toshiaki Nishioka, WBC bantam Hozumi Hasegawa, WBA super-fly Nobuo Nashiro, and WBC fly Daisuke Naito, as Sakata yielded his belt last night. Many world champs don’t necessarily show our boxing fraternity is prosperous, but we wonder too many might decline a rarity value of a world champion and/or a world championship contest.
Boxing must survive with proper safety control and still remain thrilling, both of which should be soundly balanced. Should boxing be less thrilling, people won’t come and buy tickets and TV watchers won’t see boxing. Safety, however, should be highly respected as no boxer should suffer a ring tragedy, losing his life through ring activity. We, therefore, have to educate and enlighten blood-thirsty spectators/TV watchers so that they will show more and greater interests in speed and skills rather than killer instinct.
Should a contestant just after a world title bout (that millions of people usually watch on television) pass away here in Japan, boxing will die tomorrow. People will see boxing as dangerous, and no parents will allow their sons or daughters to go to gym and participate in boxing. It should never happen. And, a world title bout is one of great many boxing bouts that take place. We must take care of all boxing bouts from medical point of view. Let this reporter reiterate that boxing should survive through worldwide cooperation in safety control.