Boxing: Indonesia's ex-world champ John retires after sole defeat

Indonesia's WBO Super featherweight champion Chris Johns (left) and IBO champion South African's Simpiwe Vetyeka exchange punches during their Super Featherweight title fight in Perth, Australia, on Friday, Dec 6, 2013. Indonesian boxing star Ch
Indonesia's WBO Super featherweight champion Chris Johns (left) and IBO champion South African's Simpiwe Vetyeka exchange punches during their Super Featherweight title fight in Perth, Australia, on Friday, Dec 6, 2013. Indonesian boxing star Chris John said on Friday, Dec 20, 2013, he was retiring, two weeks after being dethroned as the world featherweight champion in his first loss in an astonishing career. -- FILE PHOTO: AP

JAKARTA (AFP) - Indonesian boxing star Chris John said on Friday he was retiring, two weeks after being dethroned as the world featherweight champion in his first loss in an astonishing career.

Known as "The Dragon", John won the World Boxing Association featherweight crown in 2003 and successfully defended it 18 times.

But the 34-year-old finally lost the title to South African boxer Simpiwe Vetyeka in a Dec 6 bout in Perth, Western Australia, throwing in the towel after six rounds.

During more than 15 years in the ring, John - who learnt to box using tatty gloves in a rural village - fought 52 bouts and racked up 48 wins, three draws and just one loss.

"I was disappointed with my last performance but this is the right moment for me to retire," he told AFP, adding that he was "no longer young".

John, who began boxing professionally in 1997, said he was discussing his retirement plans with his management.

"I take great pleasure in sports so I think there's nothing wrong if I continue to work in the world of sports," he said.

He works with a Perth-based boxing promoter called Dragon Fire, which organises events in Australia, Indonesia and Singapore.

He would not go into details about his retirement plans but in an interview with AFP in April, John said he hoped to train future Indonesian champions after his own professional career came to an end.

The boxer, who has Chinese origins and was raised as a Catholic in the mainly Muslim country of 250 million, said he wanted to scout and train young talent for Dragon Fire.

In his comments on Friday, John also said he wanted to spend more time with his wife and two daughters, aged five and eight.

John's success in carving out one of boxing's great modern careers is particularly remarkable, given Indonesia is not regarded as a great centre for the sport.

There are few well-known Indonesians at the top level of boxing, and John was just the country's third world champion.