Japanese champion Charlie Ota makes
American debut Saturday night in birthplace
Martinez vs. Macklin, Rodriguez vs.
The circuitous journey for Charlie Ota
(19-1, 13 KOs), aka Charles Bellamy, comes full circle Saturday night in
New York City as the 30-year-old junior middleweight makes his American
debut, ironically, in the city in which he was born, nearly 6,800 miles
from where he lives in Tokyo.
Ota faces veteran Gundrick "Sho-Gun" King (16-7, 11 KOs) in an eight-round
bout on the undercard of "THE REAL Middleweight Championship - Get Your
Irish Up" card, presented by DiBella Entertainment, Saturday evening (St.
Patrick's Day) in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
The 12-round main event features World Middleweight Champion Sergio "Maravilla"
Martinez (48-2-2, 27 KOs), Ring Magazine's No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter,
defending against former European champion Matthew "Mack the Knife"
Macklin (28-3, 19 KOs). Undefeated super middleweight contender Edwin "La
Bomba" Rodriguez (20-0, 14 KOs) takes on Don "Da Bomb" George (22-1-1, 19
KOs) in the 10-round "Bombs Away" co-feature that has possible future
world title shot implications. Martinez-Macklin and Rodriguez-George will
both air live on HBO's "World Championship Boxing," starting at 10PM
Tickets, priced at $505, $355, $205, $125 and $65, are available to
purchase through the Madison Square Garden Box Office, through
Ticketmaster at Ticketmaster.com
or by calling (866) 858-0008. Call DiBella Entertainment at (212)
947-2577, visit www.dbe1.com and @loudibella
on Twitter for more information.
"Everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day, including Charlie, a kid from
Harlem adopted by the people of Japan," show promoter Lou DiBella joked.
"This is a unique homecoming for him, fighting halfway around the world,
for the first time where he was born. Charlie is an exciting fighter who
people are going to love to watch in action."
Ota was born in Harlem, where he lived for six years, eventually moving to
South Carolina and then Maryland. In 2000, Charlie joined the U.S. Navy
and chose to be stationed in Japan on the USS Gary, until being honorably
discharged in 2004. Charlie briefly returned home to live in the United
States but soon permanently moved to Japan. The only time he's left, until
now for this fight, was after last year's devastating earthquake in Japan,
returning home to Maryland to visit his mother and ensure family and
friends that he was okay.
"Charlie came back because of the fight in him," his promoter Issei Nakaya
remarked. "He has the patience and determination of a Japanese person.
Charlie returned to Japan after our earthquake disaster and fought May 19
(2011) on a day called 'The Day of Boxing' by Japanese fans. It marks the
day Japan's first world champion, Yoshio Shirai, won his title. I was very
happy Charlie fought in the main event (W-TKO9 vs. Tadashi Yuba) on such a
special day for Japanese boxing fans. He fought not only for himself, but
for all Japanese who had suffered huge damages. I'd like to thank Lou
DiBella for giving Charlie a chance to further his boxing career and
represent Japan on this great U.S. show."
Originally, Charlie started taking college classes to work in Japan as an
English tutor/teacher, and he soon found a nearby gym (Hachioji Nakaya
Boxing Gym) to work out and keep in shape. "I decided to take up boxing
and soon became pretty good at it," Ota explained. "Growing up, I always
did a lot of fight training with a friend. Even in the military, I would
hang a punching bag up in the helicopter hangar to work out. I soon became
pretty good at it and decided to turn pro and see how far I'd go in
boxing. I'm very happy that I got a chance to really see Japan and become
a fighter at the same time. When I first came to Japan, I was on a ship
that was often at sea, so I didn't get to really see Japan until I moved
Ota has done very well in the ring, too, capturing the Oriental and
Pacific Boxing Federation ("OPBF") and Japanese junior middleweight titles
two years ago, followed by six successful title defenses, and he is
presently rated No. 9 by the World Boxing Association ("WBA"), as well as
No. 19 by the World Boxing Council ("WBC").
"I started boxing at 24," Ota added. "I had to put school on hold to box.
I remember a lot of people telling me I was too old and that it was too
late for me to be a professional boxer. I believed in my ability and
wanted to see for myself. I'm happy with my success so far and still
believe the best is yet to come."
Charlie Ota may turn out to be the best thing from Japan to hit New York
City since sushi.
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