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Japanese mother seeks boxing record

By Nikki Jecks
BBC World Service

FROM THE BBC WORLD SERVICE
Kazumi Izaki

A Japanese housewife and mother of two is hoping to beat George Foreman's record as the oldest boxer to win a world title.

Kazumi Izaki is trying to become the oldest world champion at 45 years 11 months - two months older than George Foreman was when he won his heavyweight belt in 1994.

Mrs Izaki has already become Japan's oldest professional boxer after turning pro last year and juggles training with making packed lunches for her children.

She gets up early every morning to bake and make lunch for her two daughters and then prepares dinner for her family every night before heading off to the gym to train.

She had been due to fight Mexican Ana Maria Torres, aged 29, for the world super-flyweight championship in February, but the bout was cancelled by the World Boxing Council (WBC) because of concerns about her age.

It's not so much for going for the record for my age, it's because I want that belt
Kazumi Izaki

"They stopped the match because of my age, because they were worried about it," Mrs Izaki told the BBC's Tokyo correspondent Roland Buerk.

The WBC said they were worried Mrs Izaki could get hurt by the hard-hitting Mexican.

Having already been given the go-ahead to turn pro, she was shocked by their decision, and believes their concern was misplaced.

'Chance will come'

Trainers at her gym are now campaigning for the WBC to reverse its decision, and they have sent a videotape to the council which they hope demonstrates her strength and fitness.

K
The first time she hit a woman she cried

If the WBC allows her to continue to fight, she is hoping to have another shot at the title, and history, in June or July this year.

"If I go for it, I will be challenging the world record of George Foreman as the oldest person to hold a title," she says.

"I believe the chance will come and I will have the chance to try it again, I hope so."

But breaking George Foreman's record is not the main motivation for her.

Instead she has her eyes focused on the world super-flyweight belt.

"I do feel ambitious to go for the belt," she says with determination.

"It's not so much going for the record for my age, it's because I want that belt."

'Strong left'

Mrs Izaki, a former aerobics instructor, first became interested in boxing while learning to teach boxercise 11 years ago.

She took up boxing in 2001, and in the beginning she says she found the idea of hitting other people upsetting.

She admits she even cried the first time she hit another woman.

Her left side punch is very strong, so once her left comes up I don't think I have any chance to win
Susumu Hanagata, gym owner

She has toughened up considerably since then, but ironically, she still maintains she doesn't really like hitting other people.

"I look at it as not really hitting people, but it's a fight, and defence as well as fighting comes with it. So I try to look at it not so much as hitting," she says.

She might not like fighting, but according to her owner of the gym where she trains, she is very good at it.

Susumu Hanagata, who runs a gym in Yokohama, just outside Tokyo, was a former world flyweight champion.

He has a lot of respect for Mrs Izaki.

In any match-up between the two of them, he says he would put his money on Mrs Izaki.

"I don't think I can win - her left side punch is very strong, so once her left comes up I don't think I have any chance to win," he laughs.



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