Few Japanese mixed martial artists can claim to be as exciting or as popular as Kotetsu “No Face” Boku.
The first ONE Lightweight World Champion has seen it all during 41 bouts and almost two decades as a professional, but his goal is still the same – excite the fans.
He is still chasing gold, too, and he hopes to take a big step toward becoming a top contender again in a match that is tailor-made to deliver action at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD – a featherweight contest against Thanh Le.
Before his return to action this Friday, 16 August at the Impact Arena, get to know the veteran knockout artist as reflects on his childhood, how martial arts changed his life, and why he is always determined to put on a show.
From Chaos To Discipline
Expect fireworks when former ONE Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu Boku returns to battle on 16 August! : Bangkok | 16 August | 5:30PM | ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD: Get your tickets at http://bit.ly/onegold19: Check local listings for global TV broadcast: Watch on the ONE Super App http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp : Prelims LIVE on Facebook | Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE on Twitter
Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Boku is from a South Korean family but was born in Gunma, Japan, and grew up with his parents, twin sister and two older brothers.
He had a tumultuous relationship with his brothers, and he was frustrated by the expectations of Japanese society, in which the strict Japanese school system demands so much of children.
“My father was really strict, but he wasn’t at home so much. My mother was in charge, but she never really forced me to study. I’m not very academic,” he admits.
“Not being academic was probably the hardest thing for me growing up. I was a trouble maker, my teacher always scolded me, I was often called out of class. My image of school was just being shouted at.
“I got into fights all the time. My older brothers bullied me, and I took that stress out at school, but now we get along well!”
He became attracted to martial arts as a way to relieve stress, and it helped him to feel calm and balanced.
“I got into boxing first at the age of 18 for three years. I wanted to do mixed martial arts, but back then there were no such gyms, so I just went with boxing,” he recalls.
“I didn’t really compete much, just at the amateur level. I liked it simply because it was fun and I had some focus and direction.”
A Fateful Meeting
Kotetsu Boku's blistering body shots… UNLEASHED! : Bangkok | 16 August | 5PM | ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD: Get your tickets at http://bit.ly/onegold19: Check local listings for global TV broadcast: Watch on the ONE Super App http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp : Prelims LIVE on Facebook | Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE on Twitter
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, August 9, 2019
Boku laid the foundations for his career when he met the late Norifumi “KID” Yamamoto.
The Japanese mixed martial arts legend taught him the skills he needed to succeed, as well as a warrior’s mindset.
“I got to know ‘KID’ in about 2002 when we were out partying in Shibuya. We became good friends, and started training together at his gym called Killer Bee,” he says.
“’KID’ was here, and other strong guys. He taught me wrestling and striking, weight cutting, and before a fight, he’d go over the game plan and how to win. I learned how to fight with heart from him.
“’KID’ taught me about the mentality before a fight – you have to finish it, you have to KO your opponent. Just winning by decision is not enough. It’s boring, and nobody will notice you.”
He had found a place to call home, inner peace, and a direction in life that had always evaded him throughout his school years.
“No Face” became one of the most popular athletes through his bouts in several of Japan’s top organizations because of his personality and ability to entertain. He also went on to help establish the Krazy Bee gym in the Ota area of Tokyo in 2008, where he has been ever since.
Highs And Lows
In 2012, Boku made his debut in The Home Of Martial Arts at ONE: RISE OF KINGS and achieved the crowning moment of his career and made history.
He claimed the inaugural ONE Lightweight World Championship with his powerful hands when he stopped Zorobabel Moreira Jr. by TKO at the start of the third round.
“That night was the best feeling ever,” he says with a big smile.
“It’s the best feeling when you get your hand raised, and the referee says, ‘Winner!’ You get addicted to that moment, always looking for that same feeling. It gives you swagger.
“And it reminds me this is why I do it,” he nods.
The following year, Boku lost the belt to another icon of the sport – Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki – but that was one of the catalysts for even more success.
He realized he was undersized for the weight class, so he moved to featherweight, where he has achieved some of his most spectacular wins and is still going strong.
New Goals In ONE
BOUT ANNOUNCEMENTFormer ONE World Champion Kotetsu Boku returns to action on 16 August against Vietnamese-American sensation Thanh Le!: Manila | 2 August | 5PM | ONE: DAWN OF HEROES: Get your tickets at http://bit.ly/oneheroes19: Check local listings for global TV broadcast: Watch on the ONE Super App http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp : Prelims LIVE on Facebook | Prelims + 2 Main-Card bouts LIVE on Twitter
Posted by ONE Championship on Thursday, July 25, 2019
Boku still lives the old-school way – he is in the gym every day so he can achieve his dream of becoming a two-division World Champion before he hangs up his gloves
“I want to become a ONE World Champion again, but first I have to be a top contender,” he says.
“I want to keep going for as long as possible, but losing and retiring, and becoming World Champion again and retiring are different. If my body and my drive are still there, I want to keep going. I still like the discovery of the martial arts. I still enjoy it.”
If he can defeat Le, he will take a big step toward his goal, but if he does not, he will go out on his shield.
“No Face” will not compromise on the way he competes because he is determined to put on a show.
“If you win, you can keep going, but nobody can continue losing, so that feeling of wanting to win is always strong,” he says.
“Even still, I don’t want to win boring fights. I have to keep it interesting. I want to stay at the top and entertain the fans. I want to be that guy that people don’t want to fight!
“I’ll face anyone. I never say no. If he’s strong, even better.”