LONDON – Having become the first Japanese boxer to win an Olympic medal since 1968, middleweight Ryota Murata said Monday he wants to end his country’s 48-year wait for a gold in the ring.
The 26-year-old, who won silver at last year’s world championships, dug deep for a dramatic 17-13 quarterfinal win over Turkey’s Adem Kilicci and will face Uzbekistan’s Abbos Atoev in Friday’s last four.
Japan last won a medal in the ring at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics when Eiji Morioka took bronze in the bantamweight category, while Takao Sakurai won the country’s last boxing gold, in the same division, at the 1964 Tokyo Games.
“I am unbelievably happy. I want to win the gold medal because the last one (for Japan) was more than 40 years ago,” he said with a place in the last four guaranteeing him a bronze.
“I have beaten Atoev before, he’s a southpaw so I need to prepare well to beat him.”
Murata said the vocal support of his wife helped him come from being a point behind going into the third round to seal victory.
“My wife is here and I could hear her screaming. She has got a very high-pitched voice,” he said.
Brits flexing muscles
Although the British boxers must wait a few days to add their medals to the home team’s enormous Olympic haul, they’re lining up for big weekend bouts and even bigger celebrations.
Middleweight Anthony Ogogo and super heavyweight Anthony Joshua both clinched medals in quarterfinal bouts Monday night, guaranteeing Britain will win at least four Olympic medals in front of its frenzied home fans.
Ogogo jumped ahead early in a 15-10 victory over Germany’s Stefan Haertel, and Joshua knocked down China’s Zhang Zhilei during a 15-11 win in the session’s final bout. Although two of the three British women lost their quarterfinals earlier in the day, flyweight Nicola Adams also earned a medal — and three more British men could clinch in the next two days.
Ogogo isn’t surprised by the British dominance in the amateur sport, which has its roots in Amir Khan’s silver medal as the only fighter in Athens eight years ago. After the British brought home three medals from Beijing, they’ll have even more in London.
“We’ve got the best coaches in the world,” Ogogo said. “We’ve got the best team in the world, in my eyes.”