A round-up of reads on martial arts in Japan — and yes, boxing and wrestling are martial arts (we checked):
- Yuya Wakamatsu has grown a lot since he moved from Kagoshima Prefecture to Tokyo — both as a fighter and a person, the current ONE Championship flyweight division No. 4 tells Tom Taylor. “When I was in a bad mood, I would just beat up someone I saw at the convenience store,” he says. Then he discovered mixed martial arts.
- Itsuki Hirata’s mixed martial arts career is just getting started at age 20, but the Tokyo native is already widely viewed as a future ONE title contender in the atomweight class, writes Taylor. But first the former judoka will have to get past the undefeated Angela Lee — who has held the title since it was created in 2016, when she was just 19.
- After overturning a positive drug test and avoiding a ban from the sport, Greco-Roman wrestler So Sakabe filed a suit against two pharmaceutical makers that he says gave him contaminated drugs, Kyodo reports. The 26-year-old says half the battle is to prove that he is no cheater, the other half is to educate athletes about the effort they must make to not fall foul of anti-doping rules.
- At the World Masters judo meet in Doha, Japan finished the three-day event with two gold medals and five silvers, which put it third on the medal table. It was the first time the nine Japanese judoka involved had competed internationally since February 2020. Golds went to Tsukasa Yoshida in the women’s under-57 kg category on the first day and Yoko Ono (not that one) in the women’s 70 kg on day 2.
- Fifty-five years after a world title bout known as “the biggest victory in the Japanese boxing world,” plans are afoot to reunite two legendary champions, Kyodo reports. Masahiko “Fighting” Harada, a hero of Japan’s golden age of boxing, and Eder Jofre, a Brazilian former champ in two weight classes, dubbed the “Golden Bantam,” have a friendship that has transcended time and distance.