Tenkai Tsunami, 24, is the World Boxing Association (WBA) female super flyweight world champion, a title she earned after only four years of training with Toshihiro Yamaki, who introduced women's boxing to Japan in 1999. At 160 cm and 52 kg, Tsunami is a petite right-handed powerhouse famous for a mean left hook that helped her grab the title belt on Feb. 26 this year in Tokyo. She took the boxing world by storm with her stamina and fearless nonstop punches in 14 wins — five by knockout — and only three losses. In all her 17 matches, Tsunami has never been knocked down and credits her rise to stardom to her trainer. Yamaki not only taught the scrappy Tsunami boxing but also the teachings of Bushido, the codes by which these two samurai conduct their affairs, not only in the ring but also in life.

I'm not a woman who fights: I am an athlete who happens to be female. I'm in the ring to put on a great show and kick some butt while keeping good manners and following the samurai rules of fair play. Some people don't want to watch women boxing? That's easy to fix! They should stop looking at us as girls and then they might start seeing athletes, cause that's what we are.

Who knows where they will end up? I never thought I'd be a boxer. After high school, I got a job in a factory in Kyushu where my mom was working. We were on the line, making car parts. Then one day in 2003, my friend, Tenku Tsubasa, called and said she was moving to Tokyo to become a boxer and asked me to join her. As a joke, we made a bet: If Japan won the soccer game we were watching, we'd go. Our team did win, and we moved.