With boxing being global, and contested at a variety of skill levels, there may be some stories from certain parts of the world that get missed from time to time.
Here are two which feature different types of mishaps. They are unrelated, but in a strange way that made presenting them together seem logical.
Revealing The Story Lines
On the theme of missing out, I was all set to cover Saturday’s small hall show in Wales for NY Fights. I had interviewed one of the main event boxers, Kieran Gething, in the build up to the bout, and was expecting a close contest.
The card, from the Market Hall in Abergavenny, Wales, was to stream on the Boxing In Wales YouTube channel. I didn’t even consider the possibility that I wouldn’t be writing up the details of the main event and accompanying undercard.
I was undone by a technical glitch.
The second story in this short piece comes all the way from Japan. I was made aware of it by Japan-Forward sports editor Ed Odeven. (EDITOR NOTE: Ed is part of the NYF family.) In this case it sounds like human error and oversight was to blame for two imposter boxers taking part in professional bouts in Sapporo, Japan on May 14. More on that one later.
No Streaming Means No Coverage of Shadow Box Promotions Abergavenny Card
Covering an eight-fight card topped off by two compatriots doing battle for a pair of regional titles in the super welterweight division sounded like a good way to spend a Saturday evening in the house.
Kieran Gething, 12-2-2, and Sion Yaxley 12-0, former teammates on the Welsh amateur boxing team, would fight it out over ten rounds for the IBO Continental and BBBoC Celtic super welterweight titles. Gething would be boxing in his home town of Abergavenny and was also involved in promoting the event.
YouTube would provide the pictures and I would tap a few keys on the laptop and hopefully work up a readable account of the evening’s events.
The stream on the Boxing In Wales YouTube channel was supposed to begin at 7:30pm BST. 45 minutes after that time the pictures still hadn’t started and the comments in the chat box on the right of the screen ranged from disappointed to angry.
I stuck with it, hoping that whatever technical gremlin was preventing the live stream from working would be fixed in time for the main event.
Unfortunately that wouldn’t be the case. As 11pm approached, I knew the main event would either be well underway or indeed finished.
Learning Lil Life Lesson re: Technology
A quick search of the boxer’s names on Twitter, which also went into a mini meltdown of its own yesterday, revealed that Yaxley had prevailed on points by scores of 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94.
The local reporter who tweeted mentioned it was a very good fight. My feeling of disappointment at missing it grew.
As I was packing away my laptop I thought about our reliance on technology for everything. We all just take for granted that it will always work. As soon as something goes wrong, even simple plans are blown out of the water.
My idea to follow up my pre-fight interview by bringing the card details to a wider readership had been thwarted by whatever technical issues were prevalent in South Wales Saturday night.
I also thought of the media members who were at Abergavenny Market Hall. Their words and pictures for local newspapers would carry even more exclusivity now. More power to them.
A Strange Tale From Sapporo, Japan
On May 14 a professional boxing card took place at Gateaux Kingdom, Sapporo, Japan.
I’m sure the live stream of this event, if there was one, worked fine. The story here concerns two bouts on the card and who exactly was fighting out of the away corner in those contests.
A pair of Nigeria-born Japan residents featured on the card. Ridwan Oyekola, a super featherweight (11-1-2, born in Nigeria but residing in Okinawa, Japan according to BoxRec) and middleweight JJ Ologun (1-0, born in Nigeria, also residing in Okinawa) were scheduled to face opponents flown in from the land of their birth.
Oyekola was matched with 4-5-1 Samuel Moses in an eight-round contest. Moses was dispatched in the opening round according to a report on boxingnews.jp.
The same website also reported that JJ Ologun got rid of his opponent, Kazeem Lawal, in the first round of their four round contest.
Things got interesting when suspicions arose that Oyekola and Ologun did not face the opponents that were named and advertised.
As stated by Japanese daily The Mainichi, “An investigation launched after the two defeated boxers displayed a lack of stamina and skill on the way to their first round KOs found that they were different from the Nigerians scheduled to fight, and furthermore did not have the required boxing licenses.”
The plot thickens when the involvement of Bobby Ologun, the father of JJ Ologun, is revealed.
Boxingnews.jp informs that, “The two knocked out Nigerians were said to be brought to Japan through Bobby Ologun, a once popular, Nigerian born television personality in Japan. Ologun is currently serving as a manager of the Hiranaka Boxing School Gym, which organised the event and where JJ Ologun and Ridwan Oyekola are based. An accompanying Nigerian trainer is also suspected of being a different person.”
Bear in mind that this isn’t 14-year-old Walker Smith Jr. using an ID card from an older kid, a certain Ray Robinson, so he could enter a 16 and over amateur boxing tournament in 1935.
This concerns two competitors who supposedly travelled internationally to compete in Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) sanctioned professional bouts in 2023.
According to The Mainichi: “The JBC, which was managing the fights, asked the two boxers to submit their passports during weigh-ins the day before the bouts, but they said they didn’t have the documents with them. The commission failed to confirm their identities before the bout.”
I’m no detective, but could Bobby Ologun have used a pair of Nigerian nationals who were already in Japan and passed them off as “Samuel Moses” and “Kazeem Lawal,” who were probably at home in Nigeria and none the wiser, in order to save on the air fares?
BoxRec Is Wise To the Shenanigans
BoxRec has expunged these two bouts from the card that day in Sapporo. JJ Ologun and Ridwan Oyekola have not been credited with “wins.” The real Samuel Moses and Kazeem Lawal also don’t have the first round KOs counted against them.
It’s an ugly tale, with human negligence and disregard for fighter safety at the heart of it.
Following an investigation and hearing on June 30 in Tokyo, some quotes from Japanese boxing officials were published by The Mainichi.
Nobuaki Hiranaka, a former world champion and the head of the Hiranaka Boxing School Gym in Okinawa Prefecture had to accept responsibility for the organisation of the event, “I didn’t realise it until the very end. The responsibility lies with me. If a punishment is decided, I’ll accept it.”
JBC Chief Director Minoru Hagiwara was apologetic: “We take this operational error seriously.”
JBC General Secretary Tsuyoshi Yasukochi hinted at wider problems within Japanese Boxing’s governing body: “Our administrative functions are in a critical state.”
Wrapping It Up
As boxing media, we rely on technology in order to conduct interviews, catch press conferences and at times cover events we can’t attend in person. We just expect everything to be in working order at both ends so this can be done.
As boxing observers we put up with ridiculous judging, poor refereeing and bad corner work on an almost weekly basis it seems.
What we don’t think about while streaming the fights, or attending in person is that now and again, somewhere at the administrative level, an oversight has been made and the fighters advertised to be in the ring aren’t who they are said to be.
Hopefully the negligence in Japan won’t be repeated. Hopefully internet connections and streaming services continue to become more and more reliable.
Most of us want to watch the fights and some of us want to cover them. We all want to be sure that it actually is the announced competitors taking part in the action once the bell rings.