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Home > Match Information > Now-closed Yonekura gym head Kenji Yonekura, known as ‘champions maker’ dies at 88

Now-closed Yonekura gym head Kenji Yonekura, known as ‘champions maker’ dies at 88

Apr 22, 2023 11:31 am

Now-closed Yonekura Boxing Gym head Kenji Yonekura, who was a former Olympian and Japanese and Oriental Boxing Federation champion while he was an active boxer, died on Apr. 20, Ohashi Boxing Gym President Hideyuki Ohashi said on Apr. 21. He was 88.

According to Ohashi, who became a world minimumweight champion fighting out of the Yonekura gym, the cause of his death has not been revealed.

After taking part in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Yonekura turned pro in 1958 from Nikko Boxing Gym, won the Japanese flyweight title in 1959, and took a crack at the world flyweight title held by Pascual Perez of Argentine in August that year in Tokyo only to suffer a decision loss.

Yonekura then moved up in weight to bantamweight and challenged world bantamweight champion Jose Becerra of Mexico for the latter’s title in May 1960 also in Tokyo. But he lost the fight by a split decision.

After becoming the OBF bantamweight champion, Yonekura successfully defended the title five times and hung up his gloves after losing to up-and-coming Katsutoshi Aoki in October 1962.

Yonekura opened Yonekura Boxing Gym the following year and nurtured many champions, five world champions, nine Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation champions and 31 Japanese champions.
He then closed the gym in 2017, citing his old age as the chief reason. Yonekura was in a rest home in Tochigi Prefecture, northeastern Tokyo, where his son lives as a doctor.

In March 1995, Yonekura received the Distinguished Service Award in Sports from the Japanese government.

The five world champions were Kuniaki Shibata (featherweight and super featherweight), Guts Ishimatsu (lightweight), Shigeo Nakajima (light flyweight), Hideyuki Ohashi (minimumweight) and Hiroshi Kawashima (super flyweight).

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