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Ex-Boxing Champ Is Now a Shootfighter

Posted September. 23, 2006 03:55,   


“Fighting soul” was written on the wall of a gym.

Choi Yong-soo, 34, a former WBA super-featherweight champion, made his debut for the K-1. He had to prowl around the ring for eight years after losing the champion title. The word, “fighting soul,” was a reminder of his situation.

A quiet man, Choi likes fishing. His boxing style is of a tenacious fighter waiting for a chance in silence. However, it was not easy for him to come back to the ring.

Back to the Ring 8 Years After Losing WBA Title –

Five years after failing to defend his title in 1998, Choi failed again to win the match for the WBC super-featherweight championship. Then, he had to struggle for a living, driving a truck to deliver stones and applying to become a bus driver. People were surprised when they saw the “World Boxing Champion” on his resume. He was advised to drive not a big bus, but a small shuttle bus.

However, Choi did not give up. He transformed himself into a K-1 fighter and returned to the ring with a first-round KO victory in a match with Swedish Muay Thai champion Driton Rama held at Jangchung Gymnasium on September 16.

This is just a beginning to Choi, a fighter in the middle of 30s. Warming up at “Kanjim” Gymnasium, he said, “I want to concentrate on training. I don’t want to do it halfheartedly.”

Training for K-1 matches together with Park Yong-soo, 25, a former Taekwondo national representative player, Choi added, “My kicking is still not in form. It takes one year for a boxer to make himself prepared. It is the same with K-1 shootfighting. So I focused on defense skills in kicking. I will use my boxing skills, not giving the other fighter a distance for kicking.”

He said, “If my physical power and ability at the peak were 100, it is only 30 now.”

When he won at his debut match, he was in tears in the ring, thinking of his mother. He said, “Becoming an athlete was not filial. It has been so hard mentally and physically. My eyes were in tears.

“I just wanted to be responsible as a household head. There is nothing different from the way other people live. Everyone can become a true champion when he works hard.”

No Regrets over His New Career –

When a suggestion of a K-1 match was made last year, Choi declined it, saying his physical power and ability was not as good as before. However, he changed his mind. He even went to the Republic of South Africa to receive training from an expert.

Boxing and K-1 look similar but are very different. But Choi put his gloves on again. He is serious about his new career, saying, “K-1 fighters have good boxing skills, so I need to be prepared.”