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Yumi Takano
Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen


4'11" Yumi Takano comes from Osaka, Japan where she spent most of her junior and senior high school years seeing just how far she could push herself physically. At some point the Japanese manga "Ganbare Genki" (You Can Do It, Genki), about a young Japanese boxer inspired Yumi to join a boxing gym.

Yumi had already decided that she wanted to fight, but didn't dare tell her trainers, as all the other women at the gym were only working out with mitts and sandbags. Eventually, however, she entered the Osaka Golden Gloves Amateur Women's Boxing Tournament, and in the second year, was selected as the best fighter.

That left her with nowhere to go at amateur level, and when she started to see articles about Sugar Miyuki, she realized that women could also fight professionally. At this point she packed a bag and set out for Sugar Miyuki's gym in Tokyo.

Yumi TakanoThat was New Year 1998, and the gym was actually closed ... but the manager of the gym rounded up Sugar and a few other fighters to see what Yumi could do. He decided that he couldn't promote another woman fighter in the same class at the same time as he was promoting Sugar, so he sent Yumi off to another Tokyo gym ... Yamaki Gym. Like Sugar Miyuki's gym, this is a kickboxing gym. (Most boxing gyms in Japan were still not prepared to train women to fight, and even when they are, the Japan Boxing Commission still banned it.)

Yamaki Gym rented Yumi an apartment and put her to work in the gym so that she could concentrate on her training.

She fought her debut match three months later at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo on 14 March 1998 against another debut fighter, Kumi Ogihara. Both made the 47.63 kg (105 lb) straw weight, and Yumi won the four-round fight by a unanimous decision.

She fought Kumi Ogihara again in Yamanashi on 10 May, and again won by unanimous decision.

Two weeks later, on 22 May, she came up against debut fighter Rie Matsumoto at Korakuen Hall (same weight), and scored another victory by a four-round unanimous decision.

She produced the same result fighting Fumie Akahori on 14 July, again at Korakuen Hall.

Her next fight came on 21 September against Rumi Nakamura, another debut boxer, but also an experienced shootboxer (shootboxing combines punches, kicks and throws, with more emphasis on punch combinations). This was a much tougher match against a skilled opponent with excellent footwork, and Yumi had to work to get inside Rumi's guard and height advantage before she could deliver some lethal body blows to pull off another unanimous decision. 

On 21 February 1999 at Korakuen Hall, Yumi came up against Mitsuko Tanigawa, another straw weight who was making her pro debut after being selected "best fighter" at the Golden Gloves tournament in 1998. This was another high-level match, but again Yumi pulled off a unanimous four-round decision.

All Yumi's fights up until that point were cards within kickboxing events, as Martial Arts Japan Kickboxing Federation was the only official group which was prepared to show women's boxing. This caused some discontent  among the kickboxing gyms, who felt that their fighters were losing opportunities, particularly as the number of women's boxing bouts started to increase to two or three each time.

At that point, the Japan Women's Boxing Association was set up. It started out with a straw-weight tournament as that was the  level at which Japan had the greatest number of women boxers.  Yumi fought Kumi Ogihara again in the first event on 31 May 1999 at Kitazawa Town Hall. Kumi was in top form, and gave Yumi a much tougher fight this time round, but still lost by a four-round unanimous decision.

Takano vs. KomiyamaThe second and third rounds of the tournament were held on 9 August 1999, and in the second, Yumi fought Satoko Komiyama (Shizuoka Prefecture, 158 cm (5'2"), 1-0, 1KO). Satoko was no match for Yumi's power and technique, and went down for the last time in the third round, with Yumi chalking up her first KO victory.

Her second fight that same day was against Misa "Marvelous" Morimoto (Hyogo Prefecture, 154 cm (5'0½", 2-0), an incredibly aggressive fighter who used her hit-and-run technique very effectively to get Yumi up on the ropes, inflict damage, and get out again before Yumi could get in a counter. The unanimous four-round decision went against Yumi (0-3) for the first time in nine pro bouts.

The win should have taken Marvellous Morimoto through to the title match on 5 October but she fractured her right arm in a fall from her bike. The accident put Yumi Takano through to the title match on a points advantage.

Yumi fought against Natsumi Nakazawa (Yamanashi Prefecture, 155 cm (5'1"), on 5 October 1999. From the same stable as Naoko Kumagai and Aya Mitsui, and an experienced kickboxer, Natsumi had developed steadily through from her first match, displaying enormous stamina and toughness and an increasing grasp of boxing technique. Both fighters were in their first 10-round contest. Particularly in the later rounds, Nakazawa's superior stamina and her ability to take enormous punches with no apparent damage wore Yumi away, and Yumi lost her first shot at the title by unanimous decision (0-3). 

Takano vs. NakazawaThe result was much the same in Korakuen Hall, Tokyo on 23 March 2000, when Yumi put in another challenge. Natsumi Nakazawa was boxing much more carefully, using hooks and uppercuts to much greater advantage. Yumi was also in great form, and really pounded Natsumi in the middle rounds, using very effective body and hook combinations, but in the last few rounds her stamina started to fade and Natsumi crept ahead on points to win a ten-round unanimous (3-0) decision once again.

Working to recoup the damage, Yumi threw herself into roadwork and weightlifting.

On 8 May 2000 at Kitazawa Town Hall, she won a six-round 50-kg (110 lb) contract bout by unanimous 3-0 decision over flyweight Jet Izumi, moving her own pro record to 9-3. (Izumi was punching back hard to the end of this bout despite taking some very hard hooks. Izumi has extensive kickboxing experience but her pro boxing record fell to 1-1 with the loss.)

Kim Messer won the IFBA title over Yumi Takano in 2000
Photograph courtesy Kim Messer

Yumi's next bout was a ten-round IFBA Junior Flyweight title fight against Korean-born Kim Messer on 5 August, 2000 in Seoul, South Korea. This was the first time that Yumi Takano had fought outside Japan. Takano lost by unanimous (96-95,97-94,99-94) decision. According to my correspondent, "both fighters had the audience on its toes with their speed, technique and power, but Messer was the sharper boxer, moving in for quick combinations and then keeping Takano out with a solid uppercut ... Messer was shaken around by some solid punches to the jaw and was very professional in using footwork to give herself enough time to recover. Takano could have used her feet to better advantage in getting around Messer's longer reach. The pace was furious right through to the last round, but at no point in the fight did either fighter seem likely to be able to knock the other down, pinning the decision on points painfully won during the match. The media enthusiasm was enormous, although more for Messer's story than the match." Messer moved to 9-2-1 as a pro boxer and won her first world boxing title (she had won several world kickboxing titles in the 1990's).

Yumi Takano vs. Yumi Yashima in 2001

On March 2, 2001 at Shimokita Town Hall in Tokyo, Yumi lost a four-round majority decision to 5'5" Yumi Yashima of Bashamichi, Japan, a former teenage model turned pro boxer who improved her record to 4-0 (2 KO) with the win.

On July 25, 2002 at Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, California,  Wendy Rodriguez of East Los Angeles, California won a six- round unanimous (60-54,59-55,59-55) decision over Yumi. Rodriguez and Takano both began aggressively with Rodriguez getting the better of brisk exchanges in the opening round. Rodriguez went on to frustrate Takano with her ring skills and lateral movement for the next four rounds, as she has done against quality opponents so often before. Takano landed a few solid shots but took many more in return. Takano tried to pressure Rodriguez hard to rescue the bout in the sixth, but Rodriquez had paced herself well and had enough left to stand in and go toe to toe with her. Both received a standing ovation at the final bell. Rodriguez improved to 9-1-3 (1 KO).

Yumi (in white) battles Vaia Zaganas in Las Vegas
Copyrighted photo taken by Carlos Puma

On March 13, 2004 at Mandalay Bay Resort Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Canadian-born Vaia Zaganas (104 lbs) of Las Vegas won a six-round majority (57-57,59-55,58-56) decision over Yumi (105 lbs). Zaganas controlled Takano with her jab for most of this fight and repeatedly beat Takano to the punch with crisp shots to the head.. Takano was cut between her right eye and nose in the opening round but the cut did not become a big factor and she would not back down from Zaganas. Takano wasn't able to work past Zaganas's jab until late in the fight, and then Zaganas was both willing and able to go toe to toe with her. Zaganas, a former Canadian national amateur champion, improved to 15-3-0 (6 KO) while Takano slipped to 9-8-0 (1 KO). For more photos see Photo Gallery #154 on the WBAN Records Member Site.

"I saw  tape of her from two years ago and (then) she would fight aggressively with both hands in front of her face," Zaganas said of Takano. "But she had her left hand down and would move her head side to side... that's why I don't take tapes too seriously. She hit me with some good shots". 

At 4'11", Yumi Takano usually goes into the ring with a disadvantage in terms of height and reach, but she has managed to compensate by working on her footwork and combinations, as well as an increasingly aggressive attack.

Many thanks to the Japan Women's Boxing Association for sending me pictures and detailed information about Yumi Takano ... Dee.

Other Yumi Takano links

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Page last updated: Friday November 06, 2015


WBAN Boxer Bio by Dee Williams



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