The 8 Most Popular Sports in Japan (part 1)


  1. ‘Puroresu’

If you have got acquainted with the way how Japanese people abbreviate foreign words, you may be able to sound out well the word “Puroresu”, which is short for professional wrestling. Although there were a lot of attempts to bring this sport to Japan in the early 20th century, it still didn’t catch on until 1951.

The development of this sport is greatly attributed to the first big puroresu star of Japan, Rikidozan, a Korean-Japanese former sumo wrestler that gave the country a hero when it was fighting against its post-war identity crisis. Then in recent history, there are some popular wrestlers like Giant Baba, Tiger Mask, and Antonio Inoki. People who love J-pop may recognize Ladybeard, who made his puroresu debut in 2013.

Japanese puroresu is not so story-centric as American puroresu. There’s more athleticism, ostensibly because of the fact that a lot of wrestlers have studied various disciplines of martial arts.

  1. Boxing

In 1854, as Commodore Perry ordered the Japanese ports opened, his men brought boxing to this nation. Ozeki-ranked sumo wrestler Tsunekichi Koyanagi was chosen to challenge a wrestler and a boxer in a mixed martial arts fights series. Since then, Japanese boxing picked up, with the first major fight taking place in 1887.

Yujiro Watanabe was considered as the father of Japanese boxing. He had been trained since the age of 16 in California and then came back to Japan and established the Nippon Kento Club in 1921. In the ensuing years, a number of boxing associations and federations arose, forming the All-Japan Professional Kento Association in 1931, which later eventual transformed into the Japan Pro Boxing Association (JPBA) and maintained this name since 2000.

The rules of professional boxing in Japan are established by the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) to encourage all boxers to fight inside the country. There are very few male boxers who attempt to gain international titles, and the Japanese champions aren’t recognized generally around the world.

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