Boxing Insider Interview with Tomoki Kameda
By: Kirk Jackson
Questions for former WBO Bantamweight Champion Tomoki Kameda 31-2 (19 KO’s):
“Kameda-ke Saishū Heiki”
BI: Thanks again for your time Mr. Kameda; I hope everything is well with you.
BI: You come from a fighting family; your father is an amazing trainer and your older brothers are world renowned champions. Do you consider yourself the best fighter in your family? If not as of yet, what will it take to be recognized as the best fighter in your family?
TK: I believe that all of us, the 3 brothers are the best. We have achieved several records. The oldest, Koki, was able to get 3 different divisions championship. The first one in Japan to achieve it. Daiki was 2 different divisions champion and then me. I was able to get one championship belt and the first one in Japan to get the Bantam weight championship belt. With that records, we were able to get a Guinness Book of World Records recognition as the most siblings to win world boxing titles. To be the best fighter in the family…our father has that honor. He trained all 3 of us.
BI: Is being the best fighter in your family important to you? Is there a sibling rivalry between you three? Does that provide you with extra incentive to train harder and seek bigger challenges?
TK: As I have mentioned all 3 of us are the best and yes, it is important. It is natural to have sibling rivalries as any siblings would have. In our case, growing up with my brothers has helped me a lot in training. I have learned a lot from them. The moves, their advice and all other stuff. I maybe the youngest, but my older brothers helped me a lot in order to achieve what they have achieved.
BI: Can you describe growing up in the rough environments of Osaka?
TK: Is it really rough? We don’t see it that way. I think it was ordinary. I believe that this is a misconception from the outsiders. If they think it that way, it creates an image that we, from Osaka, are tough. Yes, we are. Osaka has the Kameda brothers.
BI: At age 15 you moved to Mexico in pursuit of dreams and to essentially to search for great challenges. Can you talk about the cultural transition and the difficulties adjusting to a new language, culture and surroundings?
TK: The first time I went to Mexico, it was really difficult. Number one is the language, I didn’t know any Spanish language. Of course, the culture itself. Very different from where I grew up. But Mexican people are very warm and friendly. I was able to adjust and adapt the new environment. They are very kind and helpful.
When I started training, Mexican style of boxing training is different from what my father had trained me. It was good for me because it was an added knowledge, an addition to my boxing IQ. I had to ask a lot of questions to my coach while I was training. It is very important to learn everything they taught me and the depth of this kind of training.
BI: Based on your origin, it can be stated you possess traditional elements from the “Japanese” fighting style however, you moved to Mexico to learn from Mexican trainers. It can be said you have the influence of the “Mexican” style fighting as well. Your current trainer Ismael Salas is from Cuba and familiar with the Cuban School of fighting. Is it accurate to say you are a blend of all three styles?
TK: Yes, you can say that. I am a blend of different fighting styles, but not just 3. I believe it is very important to learn different fighting styles to make you a flexible fighter. Also now, I am training in Japan but with Filipino trainers.
BI: In the past you stated you are a mix between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. When watching your fights, I can see elements comparable to Mayweather; your precision, patience, timing and ability to change range. Which elements from each fighter do you feel like you represent?
TK: I want to be a hybrid fighter. From Pacquiao I was able to learn that a big heart is also essential when in the ring. Get his stamina, never lose steam from the beginning of the fight until the very last round. From Mayweather, yes, you are correct that I am learning to be precise, patient and the change of range. It makes me an unpredictable fighter. Opponents will be confused as to what element I’ll use when fighting.
BI: Mayweather and Pacquiao retired last year and were long considered the best fighters pound for pound for the past decade or so. Who is the best fighter pound for pound in your eyes and why?
TK: Yes, both of them are considered the best fighters pound for pound, but nobody broke that mold compared to the late Muhammad Ali, may he rest in peace. Ali has the speed and stamina. He owns every part of the ring. Overall performance is spectacular, that’s why he is the greatest.
BI: You are a world champion; first Japanese fighter to win a WBO title. What is your most rewarding accomplishment as a professional so far?
TK: Winning the title itself is the most rewarding. That is the goal of every boxers. I was able to achieve that goal. Worked hard for it, you can say blood, sweat and tears. When I was able to get that belt I really felt I’m on the top of the world. Plus it helped us, the 3 brothers, to get a Guinness record.
BI: What are your goals for this year and beyond?
TK: I am setting my eyes on a higher division. Most probably the Super Bantam. That will be my next goal and achieve that goal.
BI: Do you plan on staying in the Bantamweight division? Do you plan on moving up to Super Bantamweight and how many weight classes do you feel like you can comfortably move up?
TK: Yes, I have the plan to move up to Super Bantamweight. I have mentioned that it is my next goal. I think I could still be comfortable with Super Featherweight and/or the Lightweight division. We’ll see. I want to achieve it step by step. As they say, “there is nowhere else to go but up.”
BI: Your fights against Jamie McDonnell were extremely competitive and the decisions could have gone either way. Depending on who you ask, some may say you won both if not at least one of the fights. What did you learn from those encounters that you’ll utilize moving forward in your career?
TK: The two fights went the other way, but it is a learning experience. After those fights it made me realize that there is more that I need to learn as a fighter. I am now even more eager to train and love boxing more. It was a big motivation for me. It makes me hungrier to get that belt again and even more up. I am very enthusiastic and highly motivated in training.
BI: What is the toughest thing you had to deal with as a professional?
TK: Being a champion and staying that way is the most difficult thing to deal with. Everyone sees you as a target. They want to bring you down. I should always train in order to be at a higher level. Other fighters are training hard as well. I have to be a step or more ahead.
BI: Aside from your unique life story and background, what is a trait that separates you from other fighters?
TK: Many fighters would claim that they are hybrid fighters, but that is the trait that separates me from them. You know my background and what I have achieved. I trained in many different fighting styles. I am learning continuously and my enthusiasm in fighting is always high. Like a child that is always learning and always want to achieve my goal.
BI: How can the fans get in touch with you and follow what you’re doing? Do you have a message for the fans out there?
TK: My fans can follow me in my Instagram, @tomokikameda and also Twitter, @tomokikameda. To my fans out there, I appreciate that you are continuously supporting me. Now I am training harder to be the world champion again. Your support is giving me more energy and motivation. Thank you for that.