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Yuki Nonaka: ‘I couldn’t move for two weeks. I went to a boxing gym for rehab and I’ve been hooked on the sport ever since’

Yuki Nonaka
Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Paul Wheeler talks to Yuki Nonaka, a man for whom age is just a number

When and why you started boxing:
When I was a child, I wanted to be a football player, but after graduating from high school I was severely injured in a motorcycle accident – I couldn’t move for two weeks. I went to a boxing gym for rehab and I’ve been hooked on the sport ever since.

Favourite all-time fighter:
Roy Jones Jnr is the fighter that I’ve always admired, especially for his sharp punches and exceptional hand speed and reflexes.

Best fight you’ve seen:
Roy Jones Jnr vs Vinny Pazienza. I respect both boxers, but the amazing skills that Roy demonstrated were godlike.

Personal career highlight:
It’s been 24 years since I first started boxing at the age of 19. Even though I’m a veteran now, I still have the capacity to fight at world level at 43 years old. I’ve become stronger mentally through hard work and gaining victories.

Toughest opponent:
I’m not a fan of fighting out-boxers, but I can still beat them.

Best and worst attributes as a boxer:
As a boxer, training physically and mentally has helped me to think positively. However, there’s a lot of delicious food in Japan, so sometimes the dietary restrictions are hard when I’m making weight!

Training tip:
Training is tough but you should never think about compromising. Instead, you should clarify your goals and push your limits.

Favourite meal/restaurant:
I often eat Chinese dumplings at Gyoza no Ohsho, which is quite popular in Japan.

Best friends in boxing:
I have many friends in boxing, but I mostly eat out with friends from the same Kansai region.

Other sportsperson you would like to be:
I’d probably choose a martial art.

Last film/TV show you saw:
It was the Joker film. Joaquin Phoenix’s acting is top-notch.

Who would play you in a film of your life:
I’d ask Takehara Pistol (Kazuo Takehara), as we’re a similar age and we look alike. He’s a diverse Japanese artist who’s a singer and an actor.

Have you ever been starstruck:
I experienced an intense feeling of joy when I became the Japanese champion for the first time.

Last time you cried:
It was extremely painful when my father died in 2008, as he’d always supported me. Before every fight, I make sure that I have a picture of him with me in my dressing room.

Best advice received:
Daisaku Ikeda, my life mentor, said to ‘fight cheerfully’. It’s engraved deep in my heart.

Worst rumour about yourself:
I concentrate on boxing rather than focusing on rumours.

Something not many people know about you:
I love Kawasaki motorcycles and I like to go touring on them.

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