By Joe Koizumi
Photos: Boxing Beat
Former WBO 105-pound champion Ryuya Yamanaka (16-3, 5 KOs), still 23, made an official announcement to retire from ring activity on Saturday in Kobe, Japan. Ryuya forfeited his belt in his second defense against hard-punching Filipino Vic Saludar on points this July. As he complained of a headache afterward, he was rushed to hospital, where a brain hemorrhage was detected though he then didn’t need a brain surgery. The safety code of the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) stipulates that once a boxer should be found of brain hemorrhage—regardless of slight or heavy—he should hang up gloves for good. His manager Masato Yamashita of Shinsei Gym pitifully said, “Ryuya was a man based on his constant efforts that carried him to a world belt. His diligence and dedication were a role model for young boxers.”
Though it might be a sad news, Ryuya’s mother Rie, 47, wholeheartedly welcomed his early retirement although he once promised his mother to buy a house for his family.
You may remember a historically famous episode. Benny Leonard, one of the greatest lightweight champions in history, retired undefeated after a long reign of seven and a half years just in order to please his mother in 1925, although the Depression caused The Ghetto Wizard (eventually 89-6-1, 70 KOs) to make a comeback because of economy in 1931. His last appearance was against Jimmy McLarnin in October 1932, when the referee Arthur Donovan mercifully declared a halt to save the people’s hero from further punishment. Benny later served as third man under New York commission, and, while refereeing in 1947, collapsed and passed away. But it’s another story than Yamanaka’s welcomed retirement by his mother.