By Haris Mores

Fighting Harada is arguably Japan's greatest fighter ever. He is the only Japanese boxer to ever make it to the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He is best known here in Australia for his battles with both Lionel Rose and John Famechon.

Fighting Harada is the only man to ever win both the Flyweight and Bantamweight World Titles. The dual championship reign is all the more impressive when you consider that at the time there were only 10 weight classes and one champion in each division. Had he been fighting in today's era, he could easily be considered as a 4 time division champion.

In October 1962, at age 19, Fighting Harada won the World Flyweight Championship by knocking out legendary Thai champion Pone Kingpetch. However he lost the Title 3 months later in a return bout in Thailand by a 15 round decision.

In May 1965, Harada made history by moving up to the Bantamweight limit and outpointing another boxing great Eder Jofre. In all, Harada defended the Bantamweight Title four times before losing it to Lionel Rose by a 15 round decision.

In July 1969, Harada decided to move up in weight and try to join a then elite class of three division champions by challenging Featherweight king, Johnny Famechon, in Sydney, Australia. But the bout ended in controversey as Harada lost by referee's decision. It was a compelling bout in which Harada dropped Famechon in the 2nd, 11th and 14th rounds. Even though Harada went down in the 5th, many thought Harada deserved the nod at the end of the contest. Referee Willie Pep initially declared the bout a draw but after a close examination of his card, a mathematical error was detected and the decision was changed to a points win for Famechon. The Sydney crowd booed the decision and instead cheered for Fighting Harada.

Harada got a second chance at Famechon six months later, this time in Tokyo, but he was stopped in the 14th round and never fought again.

Today he is the Chairman of the Japanese Boxing Association and trains young fighters at his own gym. Fighting Harada gave below this interview to World Of Boxing:


Who was the best fighter you ever fought?

Well, I would have to say that Eder Jofre was the toughest man I ever fought. When I found out that I was fighting him, I was scared. I beat Jofre to win the World Bantamweight Championship. He was a such a strong, hard puncher.

What are your recollections of the Lionel Rose fight?

All I can say was that on that night Rose had luck. God gave him the win. (Laughs)

At the end of the fight did you think you had won it?

I thought I did my best. After the fight I thought the judges gave him the decision because Rose's punch always landed first while I tried to get on the inside. After watching the fight, I noticed that my punches also landed on him when I did get on the inside. It was a very close fight.

The first Famechon fight in Sydney, what are your recollections of it?

I felt exactly how the Sydney fans felt that night. The referee, Willie Pep from USA, was the only judge on the night. He initially announced the fight a draw and then the decision was changed to a Famechon points win. Even though I lost on points, Australian fans cheered for me, and booed the local fighter. I was very moved. When I went back to my hotel, Australian reporters came to me, and told me that I won the fight. The following morning's newspaper headlines were that I was "robbed" of the World Title. Lionel Rose spoke on TV telling me to go back to Japan with my chin up because I won the fight.

The second Famechon fight was in Tokyo. It was expected with your own home crowd that you would win easily. What went wrong?

After my first fight with Famechon I was too over confident. I was expected to win easy on my home ground. On the other hand, Famechon was determined to win in a hostile crowd, and I believe he trained harder because of this. I was just not mentally prepared for our second fight.

Having fought both Lionel Rose & John Famechon who would you regard as the better fighter?

That is a hard one to answer. They were both great fighters, and I lost to both of them. I cannot choose. Famechon was a boxer with great technical skills, where as Rose was rough and strong.

Today Japan has a big boxing star in Joichiro Tatsuyoshi. How would a young Fighting Harada go against Tatsuyoshi.

Well, it's like asking who will win if Tyson and Ali fought. Nobody knows. But in my days, there was only one World Champion in each division as the WBA was the only organisation. Those days there was only a total of 8 World Champions, and not like now as we have WBC, WBO, IBF, WBF, etc. The World Title then had more value to it. Maybe that is why I had a privilege of being inducted to the Boxing Hall of Fame in USA. I am the only Japanese fighter to have been so.

What part do you play in Japanese boxing now?

I am the Chairman of the Japan Boxing Association. I am also the Chairman of Fighting Harada Boxing Gym and I am training youngsters.

Do you think you will have another Fighting Harada from your gym?

Well I certainly hope so. I have been training youngsters for over 10 years after my retirement. It is very difficult but it is my goal. Australia is my second home, and my dream is to bring my fighters to Australia for a fight. Australian people are very warm and great fans. There are many fans still contacting me to this day.

Thank you very much.

Your very welcome. It was my great pleasure.

This interview was done on November 10, 1998 for World Of Boxing-Australian Edition. Mr. Haris Mores kindly contributed this article to this web site.