After winning Japan's first boxing gold medal in 48 years, Ryota Murata acknowledged the support he received from his family--and from one very special mentor: his former boxing club manager, Maekawa Takemoto, who died two years ago.
"I think being able to work hard is a talent. I have that talent," Murata said at the 2012 London Olympics. "I'm proud of my efforts."
Takemoto, from Minami-Kyoto High School, was a dedicated teacher of the "sweet science" who would spend his days and nights with Murata and his other boxing students during three-month training camps before the Inter-High School Championships.
Takemoto's dream was to train future Olympians. That dream came true in August in London, although Takemoto did not live to see it.
Ever since his dedicated mentor died, Takemoto has lived on in Murata's memory, and the middleweight class fighter has held a ritual conversation in his mind with Takemoto before each big fight. And none was bigger than the gold medal bout in London.
There was an extraordinary buzz throughout the Olympic boxing venue on the day of Murata's final bout. British boxer Luke Campbell had won the bantamweight gold medal minutes earlier, and the partisan home crowd was still reverberating to the strains of "God Save the Queen" when Murata entered the ring to face Brazilian Esquiva Falcao in the gold-medal fight.
Murata showed no signs of pressure. He smiled at the crowd and raised his fist before the opening bell rang.
"I tend to get nervous the night before a match," Murata said of his fight-day calm demeanor.
By Round 2, Murata was leading by 1 point, but he remained calm and steady throughout the fight and scored a close 14-13 decision over the Brazilian. It was Japan's first boxing gold since Takao Sakurai won the bantamweight title at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
After the medals ceremony, Murata bowed deeply to the crowd and received a loud ovation.
Going into the fight, Murata remembered the words Takemoto often said to him: "You don't always get rewarded for making efforts, but you won't be rewarded unless you make the efforts."
"What's really amazing is my family who supported me," Murata said. "And Takemoto, who taught me how to box."
- « Prev
- Next »