May 19, Japan’s Day of Boxing

First World Champion by Country listed

Yoshio Shirai1

By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Boxing Beat

It was May 19, 1952, exactly sixty-nine years ago, that challenger Yoshio Shirai became the very first Japanese boxer to acquire the world championship. Shirai dethroned undisputed flyweight champ Dado Marino, from Hawaii, over fifteen hard-fought rounds at the Korakuen Baseball Stadium, Tokyo.

After World War II was over, our defeated nation was so materially and mentally devastated that our people then completely lost confidence, energy, and zip.  Under such miserable circumstances, there abruptly appeared a new fistic hero named Yoshio Shirai, who now went to have an ambitious crack at the world belt against the highly regarded Marino.  No less than some 40,000 spectators gathered at the Stadium to watch the first world title bout ever held in Japan, while a radio ratio marked a record-high 83% (there was no television at that time).

Yoshio Shirai2

People earnestly wished for Shirai’s victory.  Yoshio impressively won the belt by a unanimous decision (149-145, 146-139, 149-146) to have all the crowd emotionally burst into applause.  Shirai’s coronation, in a sense, effectively motivated our people to re-construct our nation from a burnt-out field.

Yoshio Shirai3Every country might have such an emotional moment upon its first world champion’s coronation.  This historian, therefore, hereby lists up the first champs in the respective countries, as shown by an attached table.  The data up to 2007 were originally presented by a highly respected record-keeper Bob Yalen, and they have been updated by yours truly thanks to extensive BoxRec record compilation, as shown below:

Country Name(Birth Date and Place) Title Division Acquisition
year
ALGERIA MARCEL CERDAN (7/22/16 @ Sidi Bel-Abbes) World 160 1948
ANTIGUA MAURICE HOPE (12/6/51 @ Nero dell’Antigua) WBC 154 1979
ARGENTINA PASCUAL PEREZ (5/4/26 @ Tupungate, Mendoza) World 112 1954
ARMENIA VIC DARCHIYAN (1/7/76 @ Lori, Vanadzor) IBF 112 2004
AUSTRALIA YOUNG GRIFFO (4/15/69 @ Miller’s Post, Sydney) World 126 1890
AUSTRIA JACK ROOT (5/26/76 @ Fryhelge, Bohemia) World 175 1903
BAHAMAS ELISHA OBED (2/21/52 @ Delectable Bay, [email protected]) WBC 154 1975
BARBADOS JOE WALCOTT (3/13/73 @ George Town, Guyana) World 147 1901
BELGIUM GUSTAVE ROTH (3/12/09 @ Anversa) IBU 175 1936
BELIZE VERNO PHILLIPS (11/29/69 @ San Pueblo) WBO 154 1993
BRAZIL EDER JOFRE (3/26/36 @ Sao Paulo) NBA 118 1960
CANADA GEORGE DIXON (7/29/70 @ Halifax, Nova Scotia) Claimant
World
118
126
1890
COLOMBIA ANTONIO CERVANTES (12/23/45 @ San Basilio de Palenque) WBA 140 1972
CONGO ANACLET WAMBA (1/6/60 @ Luranga) WBC 190 1991
CUBA KID CHOCOLATE (1/6/10 @ El Cerro, Havana) NBA 130 1931
DENMARK BATTLING NELSON (6/5/82 @ Copenhagen) World 135 1905
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC CARLOS TEO CRUZ (11/4/37 @ Santiago de los Caballeros) World 135 1968
FRANCE CHARLES LeDOUX (10/27/92 @ Pouges les Eaux, Nievre) IBU 118 1912
ENGLAND WILLIAM SHERIFF (8/1/47 @ Leicester) World 160 1880
GERMANY FRANK MANTELL (6/25/86 @ Brandenberg) World 147 1907
GHANA DAVID KOTEY (12/7/50 @ Accra) WBC 126 1975
GREECE ANTON CHRISTOFORIDIS (5/26/17 @ Messina) NBA 175 1941
GUADALOUPE GILBERT DELE (1/1/64 @ [email protected]) WBA 154 1991
GUYANA DENNIS ANDRIES (11/5/53 @ Georgetown) WBC 175 1986
HAWAII DADO MARINO (8/26/16 @ Honolulu, Oahu) World 112 1950
HUNGARY ISTVAN KOVACS (8/17/70 @ Budapest) WBO 126 2001
INDONESIA ELLYAS PICAL (3/24/60 @ Saparua-Maluku) IBF 115 1985
IRAN MAHYAR MONSHIPOUR (3/21/75 @ Tehran) WBA 122 2003
IRELAND DENNY HARRINGTON (12/13/49 @ Cork) World 154 1878
ITALY HUGO KELLY (@Florence, Toscana) Claimant 158 1905
JAMAICA MIKE McCALLUM (12/7/56 @ Kingston) WBA 154 1984
JAPAN YOSHIO SHIRAI (11/23/23 @ Arakawa Ward, Tokyo) World 112 1952
KAZAKHSTAN ANATOLY ALEXANDROV (2/3/67 @ Shakhtinsk) WBO 130 1998
KHYRGHYSTAN ORZUBEK NAZAROV (8/30/66 @ Kant) WBA 135 1993
KOREA KI-SOO KIM  (9/17/39 @ Buk-chong, Ham-kyongnamdo) WBA 154 1966
MARTINIQUE DANIEL LONDAS (5/17/64 @ Fort-de-France) WBO 130 1992
MAURITANIA TAOUFIK BELBOULI (12/10/54 @ Bennane, Tunisia) WBA 190 1989
MEXICO BATTLING SHAW (10/21/10 @ Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas) NBA 140 1933
MONGOLIA LAKVA SIM (2/10/71 @ Ulanbaator) WBA 130 1999
NAMIBIA HARRY SIMON (10/21/71 @ Walvis Bay) WBO 154 1998
NEW ZEALAND BILLY MURPHY (11/3/63 @ Auckland) World 126 1990
NICARAGUA ALEXIS ARGUELLO (4/19/52 @ Managua, Portorico) WBA 126 1974
NIGERIA HOGAN BASSEY (6/3/32 @ Calabar) World 126 1957
NORWAY PETE SANSTOL (3/28/05 @ Moi) Canadian 118 1931
PANAMA PANAMA AL BROWN (7/5/02 @ Colon) NY/UBU/World 118 1929
POLAND DARIUSZ MICHALCZEWSKI (5/5/68 @ Danzig) WBO 175 1994
PHILIPPINES PANCHO VILLA (8/1/01 @ Iloilo) World 112 1923
PUERTO RICO SIXTO ESCOBAR (3/23/13/@ Barceloneta) NBA 118 1934
ROMANIA MICHAEL LOEWE (2/13/69 @ Hunebohra) WBO 147 1997
RUSSIA LOUIS KAPLAN (10/15/01 @ Kiev, Ukraine) World 126 1925
SCOTLAND JAMES ‘TANCY’ LEE (1/31/82 @ Glasgow) IBU 112 1915
SOUTH AFRICA WILLIE SMITH (7/18/04 @ Johannesburg) British 118 1927
SENEGAL BATTLING SIKI (9/16/97 @ St. Louis) World 175 1922
SPAIN BALTAZAR SANGCHILLI (10/15/11 @ Valencia) NY/UBU 118 1935
SURINAM REGILIO TUUR (8/12/67 @ Paramaribo) WBO 130 1994
SWEDEN INGEMAR JOHANSSON (10/16/32 @ Gothenburg) World Heavy 1959
SWITZERLAND FRANK ERNE (1/8/75 @ Zurich) World 135 1899
THAILAND PONE KINGPETCH (2/12/36 @ Hui Hui Province) World 112 1960
TRINIDAD CLAUDE NOEL (7/25/48 @ Roxborough) WBA 135 1981
TUNISIA VICTOR PEREZ (10/18/11 @ Tunis) NBA/IBU 112 1931
VENEZUELA CARLOS HERNANDEZ (4/22/39 @ Caracas) World 140 1965
UGANDA AYUB KALULE (1/6/54 @ Kampala) WBA 154 1979
UKRAINE WLADIMIR SIDORENKO (9/23/76 @ Energodar) WBA 118 2005
UZBEKHISTAN ARTUR GRIGORIAN (10/20/67 @ Tashkent) WBO 135 1996
VIRGIN ISLANDS EMILE GRIFFITH (2/3/38 @ St. Thomas) World 147 1961
WALES JIM DRISCOLL (12/15/80 @ Cardiff) IBU 126 1912
WESTERN SAMOA MASELINO MASOE (6/6/66 @ Apia) WBA 160 2004
YUGOSLAVIA MATE PARLOV (11/16/48 @ Spoleto) WBC 175 1978
ZAIRE SUMBU KALAMBAY (4/10/56 @ Lubunbashi) WBA 160 1987

Each champion’s nationality, in principle, is hereby classified based on his birthplace.  Marcel Cerdan is regarded as an Algerian, not as a Frenchman, since he was born in Sidi Bel-Abbes, Algeria.  If born in Moi, Norway, Pete Sanstol (96-6-8, 27 KOs), a very excellent bantamweight champion who won the belt in 1931, is regarded as a Norwegian in this list though he campaigned during his career in Brooklyn, New York.  His nationality was Norway, not US.

We acknowledge there were a great many immigrants into the US from Europe, Ireland or Russia before the twentieth century commenced, but this list respects the birthplaces before their immigrations.

However, this list contains some contradiction such as the original Joe Walcott, the only 5’1.5” standing welterweight champion called Barbados Demon in the beginning of the twentieth century, who was actually born in Georgetown, Guyana and later moved to Barbados to live there for some years before going to the US.

Joe Walcott, therefore, should be exactly treated as the first world champ born from Guyana, but his nickname of Barbados Demon has been so famous and popular in ring history that this observer dare to list Walcott as the first out of Barbados (though he lived just for years).  Then, Dennis Andries is regarded as the first champ born in Guyana in this list.

 Denny Harrington, listed up as the first Irishman who seized the world championship, won a bout for the world “154-pound” middleweight title in 1878, and won another for the world “164-pound” middleweight title next year.  Why did they tolerate a ten-pound difference of weight for the same so-called middleweight title?  It was supposed that, at that time, the contract weight might be so flexibly changed upon both parties’ agreements.

Hugo Kelly (AKA Ugo Micheli), regarded as the first Italian world claimant, was born in Florence, Toscana, Italy.  Kelly, in 1905, dethroned Philadelphia Jack O’Brien’s middleweight title in accordance with BBBC Boxing Yearbook 2005, according to BoxRec.

This Japanese historian wishes to keep talking on their records all night.  But time and space is limited.  In the end, I present you a good example.   Fast-rising baseball star Shohei Ohtani of Los Angeles Angels resides and campaigns for years in California, but he is a Japanese player and should be regarded as a Nipponese.

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    • Guess I’ve been around longer than you, Dwayne. I remember when Joe was a Ring Magazine contributor in the 1960’s.

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