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“Studying with Oft-punched Head… It Was Five Times Harder”

“Studying with Oft-punched Head… It Was Five Times Harder”

Posted February. 22, 2005 22:55,   


“It was really hard due to my poor memory caused by the punch-drunk (syndrome) so I had to read a book 4.5 times longer than other students. I studied really hard so that other people wouldn’t say I fell behind because I’m a boxer. On the one hand, I feel pretty doleful, on the other hand, I feel pretty happy….”

A first-time doctorate holder as a former Korean professional boxer, Kim Jae-hoon (46), showed a flood of emotions.

On February 22, he received a degree with his thesis, “Measure to activate the management of the school’s physical facility in relation to exercise for life,” at Dongduk Women’s University.

It was just before his middle school graduation when he started boxing. He became involved in boxing, wishing “to be a champion to earn a lot of money,” after his father’s business failure and his family’s deteriorating financial conditions.

One anecdote shows his indomitable spirit (obstinacy) well. Kim ran from Seoul to Busan after entering Donga University in Busan as a special student in amateur boxing.

He did so to see whether he was equipped with physical strength and mental power to be a champion. It took 11 nights and 12 days to run the full Seoul-Busan distance.

With an amateur boxing record of 67 matches, 55 victories (46 KO’s and referee stop contest) and 12 defeats, he made his professional debut in August 1980.

While boxing, he earned a master’s degree with the thesis “Study on jab among the basic boxing skills” at the Kunkook Undergraduate School in 1985. He was a promising fighter at the time, ranking second in the welterweight division which comprised many strong fighters such as Hwang Chung-jae and Hwang Joon-suk (former Asian Champion). However, he retired in the shadow of the two players.

He describes his two years in which he worked as a salesman and a worker on construction sites as the “hardest days when he shed bitter tears.” Then, he started his new life as a physics teacher at Daejin high school in Seoul in 1987.

“My dream of becoming a champion ended in smoke, but I still had passion deep in my heart, so I needed a new goal. That’s why I decided to earn a doctorate degree.”

Working and studying together, he was once hospitalized after breaking down during a class while as an undergraduate.

Now currently a boxing referee, his new goal is to study professional boxers’ weight adjustment, training, and punching skills.

He says, “After all, my dream boils down to boxing. I want to achieve my unfinished dream of becoming a champion in studying. I want to remove the concept that poor and uneducated people box, and I want to lay a theoretical foundation for the development of professional boxing.”

Although he retried from boxing, his heart is still in the (boxing) ring.

Won-Hong Lee bluesky@donga.com