Recently, I caught up with the WBC light flyweight champion, Kenshiro “Ken Shiro” Teraji. He’s become recognizable with his nearly patented double peace signs that he keeps up next to his wide brimming grin that have become a bit of a ritual after the camera zooms in on him once he’s declared the winner. He told one Japanese outlet (as he has many) “I always smile when the camera is facing me. I don’t know why.”
The “smiling assassin’s” record is an unblemished one at (13-0, 7 KO’s) and he’s now successfully defended his title three times, including his most recent victory which came by stoppage in the second round of a rematch against Ganigan Lopez, whom he had narrowly beaten to win the title in the first place a year ago.
Shiro wasn’t apologetic to fans as some local pugilists have been with their early KO’s. |When he faced the Japanese media about the fight ending so quickly he explained his surprise before inviting fans out to his next affair. “I didn’t think it would end so quickly. If you wanted to see a longer fight, please come to my next one in person. I’ll show you a good one again.”
The level of competition was supposed to be elite in Lopez who had himself won the title in Japan before losing to Shiro last year. When I asked him about who he’d like to see challenge him next, he said with excitement: “Anyone is ok!”
Though the sentiment may gradually be changing for traditional Japanese boxing fans, there’s generally less emphasis on rivalries or even unifications compared to the number of successful defenses their champions can make. With that being said Shiro told me his next milestone is “…my 5th defense and then I want my 10th!”
Beyond boxing, Shiro’s busy with hobbies that include eating and often posting delicious foods to his social media accounts, like the $800 yakiniku bento box of premium meats he ate after his weigh-in or his experimenting in the fashion scene. While LeBron has been getting a lot of attention at home for the suit shorts he’d been sporting during the Finals last month, Shiro was comfortably wearing his own similar ensemble during the fight-week press conference, nearly two weeks before ‘Bron.
Clearly Shiro has a beat on more than just boxing though his dreams and motivations of being a successful champion for years to come in the light flyweight division are undeterred from any other positive impact he’s been having in other faucets of his life with his new celebrity.
Nick Skok can be reached via Twitter @NoSparring