Takao Sakurai at the 1964 Olympics
|Born||September 25, 1941
Sawara, Chiba, Japan
|Died||January 10, 2012
|Height||1.64 m (5 ft 5 in)|
|Weight||54 kg (119 lb)|
Born in Sawara, Chiba, Sakurai began boxing in high school, keeping his training secret to his parents. Although there was no trainer in his high school, Sakurai won the Japan's inter-high school championship in the bantamweight division in 1960. Then he entered Chuo University, and won the All-Japan Amateur Boxing Championships in the bantamweight division in 1963. Sakurai captured the Olympic boxing gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in his senior year. In the finals, he knocked down his opponent 3 times in 2 rounds, capturing the win by RSC, and becoming the first Japanese boxer to win Olympic gold, with Ryōta Murata winning the second Olympic gold in boxing for Japan in the middleweight division in the 2012 London Olympics. His record in the amateurs was 138-13.
- Defeated Brian Packer (Great Britain) 4-1
- Defeated Cassis Aryee (Ghana) 5-0
- Defeated Nicolae Puiu (Romania) 5-0
- Defeated Washington Rodríguez (Uruguay) 5-0
- Defeated Chung Shin-Cho (South Korea) RSC
Sakurai's feat in the Olympics heightened hopes for his professional career, and he made his professional debut from Misako Boxing Gym in March, 1965. He won 22 straight fights, but was unable to make a full transition from his cautious, amateur boxing style to a more aggressive, professional style. He could win only 4 fights by knockout out of his 32 professional fights.
Sakurai challenged Lionel Rose for the world bantamweight title on July 2, 1968. He got a knockdown in the 2nd round, but ended up losing by decision in 15 rounds. He suffered the first knockout loss of his career against Rubén Olivares in May, 1969 in a non-title match. Later that year, he won the OPBF bantamweight title, which he defended twice before announcing his retirement in 1970. His professional record was 30-2-0 (4KOs), and he was the top-ranked world bantamweight contender when he retired.
Sakurai founded his own boxing gym One Two Sports Club, in Tsukiji, Chūō, Tokyo, and worked as a trainer there. He was the first man to practice Koichi Wajima's "Frog Jump" punch under the guidance of Hitoshi Misako who is the president of Misako Boxing Gym where he trained during his career as a boxer. His eldest son has also had a successful amateur boxing career, winning a national tournament in the featherweight division.
- "Takao Sakurai Biography". sports-reference.
- 五輪「金」ボクサー桜井孝雄さん死去 (in Japanese). Sankei Sports. January 11, 2012. pp. 1–2. Archived from the original on January 13, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
- Boxing Magazine editorial department (with Japan Boxing Commission, Japan Pro Boxing Association), ed. (April 30, 2005). "アマチュア・レコード". 日本ボクシング年鑑2005 (Japan Boxing Year Book 2005) (in Japanese). Tokyo, Japan: Baseball Magazine Sha Co., Ltd. pp. 201, 203. ISBN 978-4-583-03849-0.
- Boxing Beat editorial department (February 15, 2012). MACC Publications Inc, ed. "追悼グラフ特集 東京五輪金メダリスト桜井孝雄死す". Ironman. Boxing Beat (in Japanese). Tokyo, Japan: Fitness Sports Co., Ltd. (special issue): 117.
- 三迫会長、誕生日に悲しみの対面 (in Japanese). Sankei Sports. January 11, 2012. Archived from the original on January 27, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
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