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Late world champ Shirai’s memorial event to mark centennial of his birth held in Tokyo

Nov 23, 2023 21:44 pm

  A commemorative event marking the one-hundredth year since the birth of the late world flyweight champion Yoshio Shirai, Japan’s first world champion, was held on Nov. 23 at Tokyo’s Arakawa Ward organized by Japan Boxing Commission. Shirai was born in the ward on Nov. 23 in 1923.

  Featured in the event at an exhibition booth on the first floor of Arakawa Sogo Sports Center were the trunks and various commemorative items associated with Shirai, including his trunks, gowns, boxing shoes he used in world title fights, posters when he won the world title, etc.

  Also, the name card of his legendary trainer and manager Alvin Cahn of the United States and other related items were put on display.

  Besides, the projected images of his fights taken by 16 mm film before there was television were aired (the first on-the-spot broadcasting by television was Shirai’s nontitle bout with Leo Espinosa of the Philippines in September 1953 in Osaka).

  Shirai won the world flyweight title from Dado Marino of the U.S. at Tokyo’s Korakuen Baseball Stadium on May 19, 1952, which boosted the morale of many Japanese people in the post-World War II period. 

Shirai, who successfully defended the title four times, hung up his gloves on May 30 in 1955 when he was knocked out by Pascual Perez of Argentina. Shirai lost the title to Perez on Nov. 26 the preceding year. After the retirement, Shirai had been a boxing critic and a TV commentator. He then created a boxing gym in 1995 with former World Boxing Association world light flyweight champion Yoko Gushiken. 

He died of pneumonia on Dec. 26, 2003 at the age of 80.

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