Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

archive1

On Wednesday night, Kameda Koki won the WBA light flyweight belt in Yokohama on a 2-1 judges decision. A brief glance at the morning papers, Yahoo! polls, and blogs, and it appears that nearly every single Japanese person believes the fight was a fix. Kikko received 13755 emails out of 13767 stating that Kameda clearly lost.

His defeat has become such an obvious fact that the dialogue has shifted towards the sources of bribery. Was it TBS who bribed the judges for ratings? Was it the boxing association in order to crown a new star and raise viewer involvement? Is there a web of intrigue between the fight’s pachinko sponsor, the Korean peninsula, and the Korean judge who ended up giving the match to Kameda?

Professional fighting — whether wrestling, Pride, and K-1 — is well-known to be mob-linked and tends to emphasize the entertainment spectacle over authentic sportsmanship. Everyone loved Rikidozan — and maybe no one had any idea that all his fights were fixed at the time. But Rikidozan actually looked like he won!

The Kameda fix was so poorly played off: The concept was eerily similar to the Rikidozan model — bringing familes together again to watch Japanese fighters battle the world on their home TVs — but they left too much to athletic realities. Kameda could not keep up his side of the bargain by actually appearing to win. And it is a lot to ask of a viewing public hot off the Olympics and the World Cup — true battles based on international standards — to go back to the hybrid fantasy-sports sagas of the past. Instead of crowning a new king by silent sinister manipulation, they ended up pulling out the big guns and sinking the ship.

Thirty years ago, an obvious fix may have led to small grumbles on commuter trains and in office cubicles, but now the suspicious can go online and find thousands of others with the same doubt. No matter if TBS can align their subsidiary publications to their side of the story: this controversy will rage in the online world. The sports papers and shukanshi will add fuel to the fire. The mainstream media is powerless to slow down the momentum.

If anything, this episode further rejects the ridiculous notion that the Japanese public — somehow different from their peers around the world — want to be lied to. But it is only when the fix is so clear that the doubts can be aired and indignation is embraced. When things go 15% smoother, the criminals get away with their chicanery and lingering skepticism gets put aside.

A common declaration of the disaffected is, “This is embarrassing for Japan.” Fans do not see this as a problem of the boxing federation and its affiliate parties: everyone understands that yaochō and bout-fixing is not acceptable on the world stage.

W. David MARX (Marxy)
August 4, 2006

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

45 Responses

  1. nate Says:

    I sometimes think you cater your entries far too much to alin and momus (and dzima in part). You wouldn’t normally use such a patronizing tone, and talk as though everyone in the world were refusing to believe a series of undisputed facts.
    Don’t let the haters cramp your style man, you got to soar.

  2. r. Says:

    right! freebird, david. freebird.

  3. marxy Says:

    You are probably right. For some reason, I am trying to convince people of the idea that the Japanese don’t like “fake reality.” Very few need convincing.

  4. Adamu Says:

    Damn right. Americans seem to like it far more these days.

  5. Rory P. Diddy Says:

    YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, ADAMU?!

    Did anyone here actually watch this fight?
    I didn’t see it. Was it that clear he didn’t deserve to win?

  6. marxy Says:

    I think it would be a major scandal if we found out that American Idol’s winner was decided from the beginning.

  7. Rory P. Diddy Says:

    Would be more of a surprise than finding out the same about Presidential Elections.

  8. marxy Says:

    I am going to really be suspicious if Bush wins a third time.

  9. Duffy Says:

    Did anyone here actually watch this fight?

    Yeah, I saw it, and homeboy Kameda got schooled. He could barely stand in the final round, while the other dude still had strong legs and zing in his punches. Kameda was cut and bleeding, while the Venezuelan was pretty to the very end. In the last couple rounds, Kameda’s only tactic was to scurry up to his opponent and hug him to avoid getting knocked on his ever-loving ass. Twasn’t pretty. Technically, it’s possible that Kameda landed more punches — comical little Tweety Bird punches — but he got beaten up.

    Did anyone spot the old cat in the crowd with the long hair and stern visage? Once, after switching to a different camera, they cut back to him and suddenly he was wearing these bad-ass shades, as if in the intervening ten seconds somebody had called him up and said, “Put on your sunglasses, boss, they might recognize you!” Who was that man? He ruled.

  10. guestty Says:

    The Korean judge Kwang-Soo Kim (金光洙) has a long blank spot in his judging record between 1987 and 1999. Anyone have any idea why that is?

  11. marxy Says:

    I am thinking they should make a new Kameda-sponsored version of Punch-Out!!!, where Kameda is Little Mac and you always beat the Venezualuan stereotype even if you lose. In the decision, he gives you that classic Don Flamenco O-face.

    And to make things more confusing, your character boasts to opponents, “I’ll give you a TKO from Tokyo!” and “Sushi, Kamikaze, Fujiyama, Nipponichi…”

  12. marxy Says:

    Also, bonus trivia for the day, “Soda Popinski” was originally “Vodka Drunkenski” – a bit of cold war humor against the USSR.

  13. Rory P. Diddy Says:

    I only saw a victory-sob highlight shot.
    Call me old-fashioned, but boxers shouldn’t cry that much.

    They should bleed out their emotion.

  14. joey Says:

    I also watched the whole fight and thought it was pretty even. Kameda seemed to be in control for the bulk of the fight, and even rocked “The Baby” a few times and did a little ridiculous flurry punch that looked like something your little brother might try if you smacked away his pillow in a pillow fight. He was punched out in the last two rounds, and most likely would have been floored if the fight had gone two more rounds, but neither I nor the few nihonjin and gaijin I talked to were shocked that they called it in his favor.

    Anyways, Wednesday is Jaws Pachinko day and Kameda might not bother to defend his (ill-gotten?) gains.

    http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20060804p2a00m0sp008000c.html

  15. marxy Says:

    If you are wondering why the Mainichi articles about Kameda dodge the controversy a bit, it just might be because Mainichi is TBS’ newspaper.

  16. Rory P. Diddy Says:

    Holy shit, you weren’t lying about Vodka Drunkinski.

  17. Momus Says:

    We’re back at the “based on a true story” stuff, are we? And wrestling is “based on a true story”, right? But where, exactly, is that contract spelled out?

    I would like to suggest that today’s entry needs to be read alongside this article about the World Wrestling Federation. Just as Marxy’s article puts disgruntled fans centre stage, the WWF article tells the tale of Bill, a homophobe who lives with his grandmother aged 42.

    “Back in my day,” grumbles Bill, no doubt enjoying every moment of his rant, “I used to watch wrestling for the confrontation of it. I liked seeing America against the world. Now it’s everybody hating everybody. I don’t know what’s going on. Take this [one] guy. He’s all fruity and he’s a good guy! How am I supposed to cheer for a fruity-tutti?”

    What quickly emerges is that the writers of the WWF article, as well as Bill (but unlike Marxy), take it absolutely for granted that WWF wrestling has little or nothing to do with this “based on a true story” stuff. Whether it’s good or bad depends on the quality of the costumes and moves, the symbolism being played out in the ring, the play of national and sexual stereotypes, and so on.

    “The typical wrestling fan,” conclude the authors, “isn’t looking for more farfetched gang-related plots, he or she (who are we kidding? There are no female wrestling fans!) is looking for somebody to look up to and fill that spacious void in their hearts.”

    A story, true or not, depends on the quality of the plot. And I would suggest that people disputing the outcome of a wrestling match are very much like people coming out of a movie saying they wish the movie had had a different ending. Are they asking for their money back? No. Will they boycott the next match? No. Do they really think the match is “based on a true story”? Don’t be silly.

  18. Momus Says:

    Re-reading your piece, though, I see that what you’re actually saying is that everybody knows it’s fiction, but following the World Cup etc they want boxing and wrestling, though fixed, to have a bit more realism to their fiction; realism as an artistic mode that simulates reality, without ever being, itself, real. So it’s not that people like or dislike being lied to, it’s that they want the authors of the “plots” to help them suspend their disbelief, the better to be swept away in the fiction.

  19. Rory P. Diddy Says:

    The comparison is a bit of a stretch though, don’t you think? It’s not like if olympic wrestlers started picking up folding chairs and throwing powders in each others eyes, people wouldn’t be surprised because WWF (or whatever) is fake.
    Granted, I don’t know jack about boxing, but the WBA seems like pretty legitimate sporting league.

  20. Rory P. Diddy Says:

    Wait a minute…is boxing fake?!

    I feel like I’ve been cheated.

  21. marxy Says:

    Yeah, hold on, Momus. We are not talking about pro wrestling. We are talking about a boxing match – that everyone was watching to see the Japanese protagonist win – and when he won by an unfair decision, all the spectators flew into a rage about the authenticity of the outcome. You are way overreading what is simply a mental incongruency between: 1) Supposition: Boxing is real. 2) Observation: Boxing is completely rigged.

    Boxing – like sumo – is not supposed to be pro wrestling. There is something more sinister about a “pro athletes” throwing their match or judges being bribed.

  22. marxy Says:

    There is also something sinister about using “a” in front of plural nouns.

  23. Momus Says:

    But this is the way you set your point up; you deliberately brought in wrestling and rigging, and called for more realism, ie skill in making it look convincing:

    “Professional fighting – whether pro wrestling, Pride, and K-1 – is well-known to be mob-linked and tends to emphasize the entertainment spectacle over authentic sportsmanship. Everyone loved Rikidozan – and maybe no one had any idea that all his fights were fixed at the time. But Rikidozan actually looked like he won! The Kameda fix was so poorly played off…”

  24. Momus Says:

    (And now all we need is for Der to come along and tell me that “reality” and “realism” mean the same thing, and that I don’t use my English nouns correctly.)

  25. der Says:

    brushing aside those “based on a true story” suppositions and chosing a “based on belief” stance is what got the current american administration where they are.

  26. Momus Says:

    Well, the trouble with the Bushies is that they stepped outside of their rigged ring and entered other arenas, like Iraq and Afghanistan, where they didn’t control all the variables and couldn’t sneer at the reality-based communities as easily as they could sneer at their tame audiences back home. Conviction politics only works when you’re amongst people who share some of your convictions, just like theatre only works when people willingly suspend their disbelief.

  27. der Says:

    [ how old are you again? Seriously, that fascinates me how someone your age can be so childish. I believe you started lecturing on proper usage (based on a completely disingenuous reading). Btw., the matter of the collocations “materialistic philosophy” vs “materialist philosophy” isn’t quite as clear cut as you would have us believe, at least if you ask Mr Google. But anyway, let’s not annoy everyone here in Marxy’s living room. Wanna step outside, mate? ]

  28. nate Says:

    I watched the last three rounds… Based on those three, and the knowledge that he was knocked down really early in the fight, the decision was a big old sham. But maybe he shone in the meantime.

    I’m not sure if each judge is required to reward points round by round, in which case I can imagine a kameda victory based on what I missed, or whether they should be scoring the whole match, in which case the fall and kameda’s condition at the end should have made it a no brainer decision for the venezuelan dude.

  29. Momus Says:

    Seriously, that fascinates me how someone your age can be so childish.

    You’re right, I’m very childish. Or do I mean child-like? I’d better google to see if they mean the same thing, or if 27,358 people have used “childish” in a positive sense.

  30. Chris_B Says:

    marxy said I am going to really be suspicious if Bush wins a third time.

    That has got to be the coolest thing I’ve read from a left winger in the last 8 years regarding US politics. Bravo!

    momus: yer truthiness is bright like lightning but your google-fu shames your ancestors.

    Oh and FWIW, there are female wrestling fans.

  31. Rory P. Wavekrest Says:

    Despites der’s knock-down in the early rounds of grammar-wars, I’m sure the judges have conspired to rob Momus of his deserved victory.

  32. alin Says:

    I sometimes think you cater your entries far too much to alin and momus (and dzima in part). You wouldn’t normally use such a patronizing tone, and talk as though everyone in the world were refusing to believe a series of undisputed facts.
    Don’t let the haters cramp your style man, you got to soar.
    Posted by nate at August 4, 2006 03:30 PM

    right! freebird, david. freebird.
    Posted by r. at August 4, 2006 03:58 PM

    You are probably right. For some reason, I am trying to convince people of the idea that the Japanese don’t like “fake reality.” Very few need convincing.

    Marxy , i think it’s that you (with a little help) have created here a fictional place you’ve decided to call japan so every little comment you make has to pass the criteria that defines that fiction. (like this guy somewhat more consciously did a while back)

    as to grand statements like the Japanese don’t like “fake reality.” Very few need convincing. a slight effort as to who are the japanese and what (is) reality might be worth it. the japanese (to go with some fictitious average) surely liked a certain/different reality in edo-jidai to the 80s to now. and as you surely know many japanese do like a somewhat filtered or coded (fake) kind of ‘reality’ in some respects than many americans or europeans because it’s simply more ‘real’ that way, the reverse also being true.

  33. trevor Says:

    wow. so information, based on things that actually happen IN japan… are fictional. just wow on that one.
    alin and momus do seem to suffer from true truthiness, and wikipediality. if you say japan is perfect & and all the japanese love it exactly how it is. it must be true. and people like, sawako, and nobuko, who want to live in the US because of the creative freedom it gives them, over living in japan, must just be totally insane!

  34. Mulboyne Says:

    This was broadcast before the fight:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sdu4zb-DxE4

    One of the commenters, kunroku, summarizes it as follows:

    “This is a clip from “MOVE!”, Japanese news & talk live program aired on Aug.1 (a day before the match). While the show hostesses reported Kameda’s pre-match conference and his arrogant attitude to Landaeta in jolly tone, commentator Masahiko Katsuya thrust into the moment when they added the news that Tokyo Broadcasting Station (which owns the proprietary broadcasting rights of Kameda’s matches) re-scheduled its year-end Music Award show due to his coming ‘defending’ match. In Katsuya’s words: “They (TBS) exactly revealed it themseves…how do they NOT assume losing at all in sport? Stop this crap of fooling us. He is NATIONAL SHAME, insulting the opponent who generously came from other nation…I’m really watching how far TBS would go into him.”

  35. Slim Says:

    This is what happens when people who don’t know boxing, judge the outcome of a fight. For the record, yes, in pro boxing, judges score the fight by assigning points, round by round. The winner of each round gets 10 points and the loser usually 9. If he was knocked down, he might get 8. Therefore, a guy can get absolutely clobbered for the final rounds of a fight and still win if he won the early rounds. It’s not a street fight where at the end the guy with the fewest injuries is declared the winner. It also doesn’t necessarily matter how hard a punch is: it scores if it lands.

  36. nate Says:

    slim, if points are scored round by round, then he still had time to make up his terrible performance in the first round where he was knocked down, and the 10-12 where he was clearly beaten (including number of punches landed), but did he? Was he really on fire for the portion that I know nothing about? That’s 7 of 8 remaining rounds he had to win, and if he got an 8 for being knocked down in the first round, 8 of 8.

  37. alin Says:

    say japan is perfect & and all the japanese love it exactly how it is. it must be true. and people like, sawako, and nobuko, who want to live in the US because of the creative freedom it gives them,

    yes for sure and mutsuko and satoshi realy miss japan but choose to stay a while longer and enjoy and use that creative freedom for a while while hiroko might settle there forever while hiroshi would never return to japan because the streets are too narrow and the ceilings too low. who said anything is perfect or the same. you M系 guys really do seem to lack a 3rd dimension (sort of where metaphors analogies similies and stuff come into play) and jump from black to white.

    proposal for tsugi no nihonjinron dissection: 美しい国へ. selling quite well.

  38. Slim Says:

    I haven’t seen the fight yet so didn’t mean to comment on the results of this actual fight. But if he lost the first round 10-8, and the 10,11, 12 rounds 10-9, then he needed to win 7 of the other 8 rounds. Not likely, but my only point was that it does happen. I was just reacting to the comments of people who said he looked worse or clearly lost the final rounds: none of that guarantees that the fight was fixed if he performed solidly and won rounds 2 though 8 or 9.

  39. alin Says:

    i havn’t seen the fight either but from what i gather from others’ comments i’m wondering why it’s being discussed as a ‘japanese’ issue.

  40. marxy Says:

    Ask the 1500 Japanese who apologized on behalf of their nation to the Venezualan embassy.

  41. alin Says:

    strikes me as unusualy super-fair of those 1500. quite exemplary behaviour, why din’t we have x000 koreans apologising at the italian embassy at the soccer WC 2002, a handful italians apologizing at the australian embassy after the australia-italia game this WC. etc etc .

  42. marxy Says:

    Unbelievably polite. Your question was “why is this a Japanese issue?” I think this behavior shows that it is being perceived as not an isolated incident from a corrupt industry but something that reflects individual perceptions of “Japan” as a whole?

  43. alin Says:

    a world of sports where the winning team and their supporters (whether fair or not) rather than boost in cheauvinistic glory says to the other team and supporters ‘shitsurei shimashita’.

  44. Mulboyne Says:

    Bear in mind that TBS phonelines were jammed after the fight to the extent that frustrated callers began to ring up unrelated TV Asahi to complain about the match. I don’t find it surprising in that context that the Venezuelan embassy also received calls.

    It’s not unique for people to be upset if they sense something underhand about their team’s sporting victory whether it be through cheating or bad sportsmanship. If there is an intense rivalry between the two sides then it will often get overlooked (Maradona’s “Hand of God”) but sometimes not even then (1981 Australia/New Zealand underarm bowling incident). I don’t think all SF Giants supporters are behind Barry Bonds either.

    However, the reaction to the Kameda fight result isn’t just about boxing, it is also and maybe even mainly about the TV station. The ratings for this fight were high because TBS had invested a lot into building up the brothers and created unrealistic expectations.

    This clearly annoyed some and it’s difficult to believe that Katsuya’s complaint about the actions of TBS seen in the YouTube link above was an isolated attitude before the fight. The public reaction to the result seems to be because they feel let down. There wasn’t much time spent speculating about who had the best motive for an alleged fix and TBS is in the firing line.

  45. marxy Says:

    Apparently, people were also calling into the Olympic Committee in Japan during Torino because the Japanese athletes weren’t doing very well. As you said, this time sportmanship/corruption rather than victory is the issue.