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“To Me, There is No Japan”

Posted April. 06, 2005 23:32,   


“If he is in level seven or eight in judo, then I am in level nine or 10. I want to win.”

“Tragic judo star” Yoon Dong-shik (33, former KRA trainer) will face Japanese hero Sakuraba Kazushi (37) in his debut match at the combative sports competition “Pride FC Middleweight Grand Prix.” SnE, the Korean organizer of Pride FC, reported on April 6 that Yoon Dong-shik will fight Sakuraba on April 23 at Japan’s Osaka Dome.

“Pride FC” is a combative sports competition that is currently getting the spotlight in Japan. It is a rival to “K-1,” in which former traditional wrestling champion Choi Hong-man competes. In “K-1,” the players fight in an upright position, whereas “Pride FC” allows the fighters to lie down to use judo or wrestling techniques.

Yoon Dong-shik headed straight to the Middleweight Grand Prix without a qualification match. This is a special treatment that even “Pride FC’s” biggest star Wanderlei Silva (Brazil) was unable to get. SnE explains, “Japan knows Yoon Dong-shik’s brilliant judo skills, and was widely known as a ‘Japan killer’ during his judo career.”

Yoon Dong-shik set the miraculous record of winning 40 consecutive matches in 1994~1995, and was a champion in the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games and the 1997 Asian Judo Championships. He was also a favorite for the gold in the Olympics but failed to make it on the national team each time due to injuries and a combination of other misfortunes. He retired in 2001 after winning the bronze medal at the 2001 Munich World Championships.

Sakuraba was an amateur wrestler; a star player who became popular when he simultaneously beat the then-invincible Gracie (Brazil) brothers early in the 2000’s. Yoon Dong-shik said, “I want to beat him, in the name of Korea.”

Won-Hong Lee bluesky@donga.com