Masao Ohba

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Masao Ohba
Masao.Ohba.jpeg
Statistics
Real name Masao Ohba
Nickname(s) The Eternal Champion
Rated at Flyweight
Height 5 ft 5.5 in (1.66 m)
Nationality Japan Japanese
Born October 21, 1949
Tokyo, Japan
Died January 25, 1973(1973-01-25) (aged 23)
Tokyo, Japan
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 38
Wins 35
Wins by KO 16
Losses 2
Draws 1
No contests 0

Masao Ohba (大場 政夫, October 21, 1949 – January 25, 1973) was a professional boxer from Tokyo, Japan. He became the WBA flyweight champion on October 22, 1970, defeating the reigning champion Berkrerk Chartvanchai in Tokyo and retained the championship for an impressive five title defenses. He tragically died from a car accident at only 22, still holding his world title.[1] He was trained by Isamu Kuwata.

Childhood and early career[edit]

Ohba was born on October 21, 1949. Ohba's father was a factory worker and a compulsive gambler, causing him to know poverty from an early age. His father followed professional boxing as an avid fan which influenced Ohba's childhood aspirations and dreams. By the time Ohba was in elementary school, he dreamt of becoming a world champion, and bringing himself and his family out of poverty.[2]

After completing middle school, he took a job in a candy shop to help support his family and trained as a boxer in the evening. He joined the Teiken Boxing Gym in 1965.[3][4] Because Ohba weighed only about 105 pounds and barely stood five feet when he entered the gym, the trainers doubted that he would be successful as a professional boxer. He trained hard, putting on the seven pounds of muscle he needed to box within the flyweight range by the time he made his debut. He later had trouble making the strict flyweight limit later in his career, and at nearly five feet six inches was somewhat tall for a flyweight.

Professional career[edit]

Ohba made his professional debut in November 7, 1966, at the age of 17 against Kazuyoshi Watanabe in Tokyo. Between November 1966 and August 1968, he won all but one of his first eighteen bouts, with one draw. He fought all of these matches in his hometown of Tokyo.[1]

On December 14, 1969, he defeated Bernabe Villacampo in a non-title fight by way of a ten round Unanimous Decision on points in Tokyo. Villicampo was Flyweight Champion at the time, making Oba's clear win an important victory, as well as an upset.[5][6][7]

Taking the WBA World Flyweight Title[edit]

He got his first world title shot on October 22, 1970 at Nichidi Auditorium, Nihon University, in Tokyo, against Berkrerk Chartvanchai, who was the WBA World flyweight champion. He won by TKO in the 13th round before a crowd of 7000,[8] becoming the eighth Japanese boxer to capture a world title. According to one source, the bout was postponed from its initial date when Chartvanchai took ill with a high fever.[9][10] Chartvanchai was down three times before finally being called out for the full count. Enrique Jimenez refereed. Oba finished off Chartvanchai with a volley of punches to the head at 2:16 into the thirteenth round. Charvantchai had trouble making the weight limit, even after doing light exercise and taking a steam bath, which may have weakened him for the bout. Oba gained a considerable lead in points throughout the match. Chartvanchai was weakened both by a cut to his eye he received in the fourth round which gave him trouble and the efforts he took to make weight.[11][12]

First four defenses of the WBA World Flyweight Title[edit]

On January 21, 1971 he defeated Swiss boxer Fritz Chervet in a non-title fight technical knockout at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan. The bout was ended after 1:31 into the eighth round.[13]

Ohba made his first three WBA World Flyweight Championship defenses by 15 round decisions, and his 4th defense by 5th round KO, all at Nihon University Stadium in Tokyo. He also fought four non-title matches in between his defenses, winning all of them as well.[1] His first defense was against the great champion Betulio Gonzales on April 1, 1971 in Tokyo in a very significant fifteen round Unanimous Decision.[1] Gonzales would hold the Venezuelan Flyweight Title, and at one time hold both the WBC and WBA World Flyweight Championships.[1]

On August 19, 1971, he won a Unanimous Decision over Tony Moreno of San Antonio in a non-title ten round bout. The audience of 2000 were somewhat disappointed as Ohba was unable to score a knockdown against his opponent.[14]

His second defense of the World Flyweight Title was also a fifteen round Unanimous Decision on October 23, 1971 against Filipino boxer Fernando Cabanela.[1] His third defense was against Japanese boxer Susumu Hanagata on March 4, 1972 in a fifteen round mixed decision in Tokyo. Hanagata, an accomplished flyweight, would briefly take the WBA World Flyweight Title in October 1974.[1]

His fourth WBA World Flyweight defense was against Orlando "Yango" Amores from Colón, Republic of Panamá, on June 20, 1972 in Tokyo. Ohba impressively won on a fifth round knockout.[1]

Last fight, fifth defense of WBA World Flyweight Title[edit]

Chartchai Chionoi

On January 2, 1973, Ohba faced the Thai veteran boxer, Chartchai Chionoi, for his fourth defense. Ohba was knocked down with a right hook in only forty seconds into the first round, and injured his right ankle while falling to the canvas. He managed to pick himself up, and his corner iced his ankle in between rounds, but Ohba limped as he exchanged punches with Chionoi.

Even with his injury, Ohba managed to overpower Chionoi in the middle rounds, often using rights to the head, and finally knocked down the challenger for the first time a 2:19 into the 12th round. Chionoi was knocked down two more times in the round, and having been knocked down three times, the bout was ruled an automatic knockout. Ohba marked a dramatic 12th round KO win for his 5th WBA World Flyweight Title defense.[15][16]

He remarked to an interviewer after the bout that "I did not expect the Thai to put up such a good fight, it was my hardest fight so far." He also noted "I did not expect the long hook that hit me first and made me groggy", and "I did not expect the second that dropped me on my pants."[17]

Premature death in car accident[edit]

On the morning of January 24, 1973, only three weeks after his last defense, Ohba died in a car accident. He was returning to the Teiken Gym where he both trained and lived.[18] Ohba was driving his new 1973 ivory Chevrolet Corvette down an expressway in Tokyo, when he hit a heavy duty eleven ton parked truck on the shoulder of the opposite lane.[19] His Corvette had jumped the road divider when he was unable to negotiate a turn and he was unable to regain control. He was driving around sixty, in a thirty-six mile per hour zone and was an inexperienced driver, having only obtained his driver's license three months before the crash.[20] He was only 23 years old, and still in possession of the WBA title.[1][21] As a dutiful son, he had just bought his parents a new home. On February 5, 1973, a funeral service was held by the World Boxing Association at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, where he had once boxed. A separate service had been held at his home in Kasuwbe, twenty miles north of Tokyo.[19]

Ohba was dubbed "The Eternal Champion," because he was undefeated in world title bouts and died while still reigning champion. He had been planning on relinquishing his flyweight title to challenge for the bantamweight title before his death. His professional record was 35-2-1 (16KOs).

Achievements and honors[edit]

Preceded by
Berkrerk Chartvanchai
WBA Flyweight Champion
October 22, 1970 – Vacated
Succeeded by
Chartchai Chionoi

Ohba was part of the 2015 class of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.[2]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Masao Ohba". BoxRec. Retrieved 7 August 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Masao Ohba". ESPN.go.com. Retrieved 25 August 2016. 
  3. ^ Ohba was member of Teiken Boxing Gym in "Flyweight Champion Masao Ohba is Dead", Las Cruces Sun-News, Las Cruces, New Mexico, pg. 15, 25 January 1973
  4. ^ "Auto Crash Fatal to Thai Champ", Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, pg. 32, 26 January 1973
  5. ^ "In Line for Shot", The Kokomo Tribune, Kokomo, Indiana, pg. 13, 15 December 1969
  6. ^ "Weekend Fights", Alton Evening Telegraph, Alton, Illinois, pg. 18, 15, December 1969
  7. ^ The fight was an upset in "Oba Wins Flyweight in Upset Over Filipino", Clarion Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi, pg. 20, 15 December 1969
  8. ^ "Japan's Masao Oba Wins Flyweight Title", Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Arizona, pg. 13, 23 August 1970
  9. ^ Chartvanchi had high fever in "Tessman is Next on Foster's List", Asbury Park Press, Asbury, New Jersey, pg. 14, 6 April 1970
  10. ^ Bout took place at Nichidi Auditorium in "Title Foes Tomorrow", The Post Standard, Syracuse, New York, pg.30, 21 October 1970
  11. ^ Chartvanchai was weakened by a steambath he took and a cut over his eye in "Japan's Masao Oba Wins Flyweight Title", Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Arizona, pg. 13, 23 August 1970
  12. ^ "Oba Kayos Chartvanchai for Flyweight Title", San Antonio Express, San Antonio, Texas, pg. 58, 23 October 1970
  13. ^ "Oba Wins", Florence Morning News", Florence, South Carolina, pg. 8, 23 January 1971
  14. ^ "Masao Oba Wins Decision," Kingsport Times, Kingsport, Tennessee, pg. 16, 20 August 1971
  15. ^ "Masao Ohba Fight:123824". BoxRec. Retrieved 7 August 2016. 
  16. ^ "Masao Ohba in Knockout", Arizona Republic, Phoenix, Arizona, pg. 80, 3 June 1973
  17. ^ Ohba's quotes from "Japanese Retains World Flyweight Crown", Clarion- Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi, pg. 32, 3 January 1973
  18. ^ Ohba was returning to the Teiken Gym in "Flyweight Champion Masao Ohba is Dead", Las Cruces Sun-News, Las Cruces, New Mexico, pg. 15, 25 January 1973
  19. ^ a b Truck weighed eleven tons and he was driving a Corvette in "Ohba, World Boxing Champ Dies in Crash", The Monroe News Star, Monroe, Louisiana, pg. 31, 25 January 1973
  20. ^ "Auto Crash Fatal to Fly Champ", The Cincinnati Enquirer Cincinnati, Ohio, pg. 32, 26 January 1973
  21. ^ "Masao Ohba". IBHOF. Retrieved 28 August 2016.