Boxing: Japanese champion Murata hangs up gloves

Japan's former world and Olympic boxing champion Ryota Murata announces his retirement in Tokyo, on March 28, 2023. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO – Japan’s former world and Olympic boxing champion Ryota Murata announced his retirement at the age of 37 on Tuesday, saying he had run out of challenges following his loss in 2022 to Kazakh star Gennady Golovkin.

Murata became Japan’s first-ever Olympic middleweight gold medallist at the 2012 London Games before turning professional and capturing the WBA (World Boxing Association) world title at the same weight five years later.

He was back in the global spotlight last April when he fought Golovkin in Saitama, north of Tokyo, putting in a strong performance until the man known as “GGG” stopped him in the ninth round.

Murata told reporters in Tokyo he had “always thought that the Golovkin fight would be the last one”.

“After that, I couldn’t really find anything more that I wanted out of boxing,” local media quoted him as saying.

“Winning the (Olympic) gold medal was a starting point, becoming a world champion was a starting point... I regard everything as a new beginning.

“As such, today is a new start. From here on, I want to build a solid future.

“As of today, professional boxer Ryota Murata will be retiring. Thank you to everyone who has supported me.”

Murata retires with a professional record of 16-3, winning 13 by knockout.

He became a big star in his home country after beating Brazil’s Esquiva Falcao to win gold at the London Games, becoming Japan’s first Olympic boxing champion since 1964.

His humble, easy-going character won him friends in and out of the ring, and Golovkin presented him with his ring gown following their match as a mark of respect.

Asked about his plans, if he intends to still be in boxing in any capacity, Murata did not give too much away and said he simply wants to become “a good role model” now that his career is over.

“If you’re an athlete, once your dream comes true, you lose your enthusiasm,” he said.

“Now I want to build a career and prove that life isn’t just about competition.” AFP

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