Japan Chastises Flamboyant Boxer
Thursday, October 18, 2007 Posted: 11:52 AM JST
Early morning news shows and sports-papers in Japan today showed their unmitigated anger with a creature they themselves helped create: Japanese boxer Daiki Kameda (18) who lost a WBC title fight with Daisuke Naito (33) last week in the most shameful way possible. All commentators are heavily criticizing Daiki Kameda and his coach for not apologizing for his violent behavior during the match. The discussion that is now flaring up gives an interesting public view on Japan's values and expected behavior.
Sporting gold-colored hair and gloves, Daiki became increasingly violent during the match as he lost to the much older Naito. He punched Naito while both men wrestled on the canvas and also picked him up and slammed him down as if he was a Professional Wrestler instead of a boxer.
The violence was not limited to Daiki. Television microphones recorded Daiki's older brother Koki, in Daiki's corner, telling him to elbow Naito in the eye. Daiki's coach Shiro Kameda, who also happens to be his father, did nothing to stop his son's outrageous behavior.
"The last round was astonishing," Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) general secretary Tsuyoshi Yasukochi told reporters shortly after the match. Commission director Shinichi Saito said: "His actions were an insult to boxing and he has lost the trust of the fans." Sports-papers in Japan sported headlines like "Worst-ever world title match!" and "Daiki a weakling!" The Yomiuri Shimbun said that Daiki's "pathetic attempts at showmanship" were "classless."
In the run-up, Daiki had called Naito a "cockroach" and ridiculously claimed that he would commit seppuku (suicide by disemboweling) if he lost. His statements shocked many in a country used to decorum, but they were dismissed by many as showmanship or "performance".
A nationally televised press conference in Tokyo yesterday made the excuses of "showmanship" excuses evaporate and make many people realize that the Kamedas are just plain rude and obnoxious.
With his golden hair all shaved off, dressed in simple dark clothes and missing his trademark glitzy dark glasses, Daiki appeared for just two minutes before he was shoved out of the room by an attendant. In those two minutes he said absolutely nothing and just stared gloomily at the floor.
Japanese good manners demand that he should have stood up and bowed deeply to apologize. Before setting up a press conference, the Kamedas should also have apologized to Naito. They haven't bothered to even contact the new flyweight world champion since the fight.
It wasn't only Daiki who didn't show the required remorse for his acts, his father answered almost none of the questions asked by reporters even though the press conference was organized by the Kamedas themselves. He also turned out to be unable to appropriately apologize for the outrageous behavior of his two sons.
The only person who tried to apologize was Keiichiro Kanehira, the head of the Kyoei Gym where the Kameda's train. He desparately and unsuccesfully attempted to save the Kameda's ruined reputation. Although he was asked only three questions as opposed to Shiro Kameda's nine, he did almost all the talking.
The Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) has handed Daiki a one-year suspension. His father Shiro has denied allegations that he told his son to use foul play. "There was no intention to break the rules," he said in a statement issued by his Kyoei Gym. "It was simply Daiki's youth and lack of maturity. I should have done more to control him." The JBC however clearly thinks that he bears blame. They have banned him indefinitely from working either in the gym or at a fight. Older son Koki was issued a disciplinary warning.
Japanese media may be angry, but they themselves are partly to blame. They build up the Kameda brothers over the past few years. Even in the last hour before the match, TV stations showed outrageous statements by Daiki and Koki Kameda and presented them as heroes while they almost completely ignored the polite and quiet --and therefore dull-- Daisuke Naito.
Since the match, Naito has shown himself to be an extremely graceful and understanding winner. He has made many statements to encourage Daiki and showed none of the bad behavior that made the Kamedas the darlings of the Japanese media. Let's hope the Kamedas, and the media, learn something from that.
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