Emiko (aka Fujin) Raika was born on Jan 24, 1975 in Kyoto,
Japan where she lived with her grandmother until she was three. After
her grandmother died she spent the next 15 years in the Karyo-en
children's home in Kyoto. Raika made a big impression on officials at
the home by studying for 10 hours a day before school examinations,
showing strong powers of concentration and being among those in the top
of her class graduating from high school.
Raika studied at Ogaki
Women's College and became a
licensed dental hygienist. She worked at a
dental clinic but quit after a month because she didn't like wearing
uniform skirt. Other jobs she tried did not make her happy. "I felt as
if I were
not living and felt myself destroying. I was very weak mentally. I
could choose to have
an ordinary life but I wanted more that just that - to become strong,"
Raika, who had always enjoyed
watching rough sports such as wrestling and rugger, joined a boxing gym
that she saw while commuting to work at a battery manufacturer. She
soon found that it was a place where she could be true to herself
and trained to fight as an amateur.
Raika had three wins in three
amateur fights and was named the most
outstanding woman in an amateur tournament where she
was spotted by Tokyo gym owner Toshihiro Yamaki. With a growing number
Japanese women becoming interested in boxing,
a group of gym owners had organized a women's boxing association
in 1999 with Yamaki as its secretary general.
impressed by Raika and asked her to join his gym and turn professional.
devotes full time to boxing and Yamaki provides her with her rent and
Raika made her pro debut on
May 8, 2000 in Kitazawa, Tokyo, defeating another debut
fighter, Keiko Ohnuma, by TKO when the
referee stopped the bout early in the second round. A Women's
Boxing Page correspondent says that Raika "wiped
out her opponent with a devastating series of combinations".
On September 21, 2000 in
Tokyo, she fought to a six-round draw with Kaori Koizumi, a debut
On December 12, 2000 at
Shimokita Town Hall in Tokyo, she won a six-round decision over Ann
Jihe, a debut fighter.
On March 2, 2001 at Kitazawa Town Hall in Tokyo,
she fought top-ranked
Japanese bantamweight Miki Kikukawa, winning by a six-round split
Raika's corner man was screaming at her to give her opponent "more
jabs" and to "move forward!"
and Yamaki was unsatisfied with Raika's performance, telling her
"It's going to be hard for you to get a crack at a
world title if you fight the way you did."
"He's right," a disappointed Raika told
our correspondent, "and I'm going to start training again
On July 20, 2001 she returned
to the ring in Tokyo and TKO'd debut fighter Mika Harikae in the
On February 3, 2002 at
Shimokita Town Hall in Tokyo,
she won a ten-round unanimous (97-93,99-92,100-93) decision in a
with Miki Kikukawa to become the Japanese featherweight champion.
April 29, 2002 at Kitazawa Town Hall in Tokyo, Layla McCarter (125 lbs) of
Las Vegas, Nevada won a
clear eight-round unanimous decision over Raika (126 lbs).
McCarter's skills were too much for the Japanese featherweight
The fight was
televised as part of an all-female card seen by an estimated 26 million
in Japan, Korea. South-East Asia and Taiwan, with an estimated 26
million viewers. McCarter improved to 10-7-3 (2 KO's).
September 7, 2002 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, she won a second-round TKO
over debut fighter Lauren Bennett
of Australia, who was a late substitute for Sharon Anyos.
On December 18, 2002 in Tokyo, she defeated
Sharon Anyos of
Australia by a ten-round split
for the WIBA Featherweight title previously held by Anyos. Raika's left
eye was closed by the end
of this hard-fought battle but she toughed it out for the win. Anyos,
who controlled the early going but appeared to run out of gas
in the later rounds, fell to 6-2-0 (1 KO) in her first bout in just
over a year.
On November 30, 2003 in Tokyo,
Raika retained the WIBA Featherweight title with a ten-round
majority decision in a rematch with
Sharon Anyos of
while while Anyos fell to
6-3-0 (1 KO).
On May 23, 2004 in Tokyo Raika
defended the WIBA Featherweight title by TKO'ing 5'7" Shelby Walker of
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA in the second round, dropping Walker's
record to 6-4-1 (5 KOs). According to one fight report, "Emiko
came out firing in round one to overwhelm Shelby. She just pounded her
all over the ring with no let up. There also appeared to be a couple of
slips or knock downs. In the end all this flurry of punches impressed
the ref. enough to stop the fight. Shelby didn't do much and Emiko was
throwing some power bombs ... both women were wide open, so a lot of
punches landed. Shelby seemed nervous and never seemed to get started
or untracked." Walker was ranked #17 in the world in my
computer rankings at the time of this fight.
On September 18, 2004 in
Kyoto, Japan, Raika (126 lbs) won a ten-round unanimous decision over Melissa Fiorentino (124
lbs) of Cranston, Rhode Island, USA in defense of the WIBA
Featherweight title. According to Ryan Wissow of the WIBA, 'it
was an inside trench war from start to finish. Missy was ahead after
seven rounds, but both her eyes swelled shut and she lost the last
three rounds badly, almost getting stopped in the ninth round and in
some trouble again in the tenth. Missy complained after the fight about
getting head-butted, but both landed bombs galore all night. This was a
great fight, the fight of the night and probably the womens' fight of
the year." Fiorentino fell to 9-1-0 (6 KO).
On March 13, 2005 at
Roppongi Velfarre in Tokyo, Japan, Chevelle
Hallback (129¾ lbs) of the United States won the WIBA Super
Featherweight Title with a ten-round unanimous decision over
Raika (128½ lbs). Hallback improved to 24-4-1 (11
On October 1, 2005 at Roppongi
Velfarre in Tokyo, Japan, Raika (129 lbs) won an eight-round decision
over Florida-based Puerto Rican Belinda
Laracuente (130 lbs) in an eliminator for the WIBA Super
Featherweight title. Belinda Laracuente fell to 22-11-2
(9 KOs) with the loss.
On May 20, 2006 in Cholla
Province, Korea, Raika won a 10-round unanimous decision over
undefeated Won Mi Chung of Korea for the vacant IFBA Junior
Welterweight title. Chung fell to 5-1 (5 KO's) with the loss.
On June 10, 2006 Raika KO'd
debut fighter Yoko Takahshi in the fourth round of a scheduled
On December 14, 2006 in Tokyo, Japan, Raika (133 ¾
a 10-round unanimous (97-95,97-94,98-93) decision over Terri Blair (134 lbs) of
Louisville, Kentucky, USA for the WIBA World Lightweight title.
According to WIBA President Ryan Wissow, "The Raika-Blair fight was a war!
Blair had Raika hurt a few times, and was the harder puncher of the
two, but Raika landed more clean punches, and was the aggressor for
most of the fight, especially later in the fight. Blair told
me she hurt both of her hands on Raika's head, and she said what a good
chin Raika has. The shots she landed would have knocked out most women.
Raika is the real deal, and Blair is world class." Raika
improved her record to 16-2-1 (6 KO's) while Blair fell to 9-11-2 (5
KOs). Raika was awarded the WBAN Fighter of the Month for
January 2007 for this win over Blair.
On April 13,
2007 at Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Jelena Mrdjenovich (129
lbs) of Edmonton won a 10-round unanimous (99-91,98-92,98-92) decision
over Emiko (129 lbs) for the WBC Junior Lightweight Title.
Raika had few answers for Mrdjenovich's right
hand and was in trouble in the fourth and fifth rounds, but rallied in
the sixth. "She came straight forward all night, but when
she bent over at the waist to try to get inside, she was wide open for
my uppercut", said Mrdjenovich. Raika fell to 16-3-1 (6 KO's) while Mrdjenovich improved to 20-2-0 (11
On November 10, 2007, at
Shinjuku Face in Tokyo, Japan, Raika won a ten-round majority (99-93,
97-93, 95-95) decision over
Ann Marie Saccurato
New York defending the WIBA Lightweight title. In the early rounds
Saccurato came forward looking to establish her jab and caught Raika
hard repeatedly. Raika began to pursue and land her trademark left
hooks in the middle rounds, putting the fight more on even terms. According to Ryan Wissow of the
WIBA: "In a fight that will be named the WIBA`s 2007 Fight of
the Year ... Saccurato gave Raika serious fits in the first three
rounds by moving and boxing, something nobody expected to see from Ann,
who is well known for being a brawler. It took Raika a few rounds to
adjust, but she was able to cut off the ring successfully and engage
Saccurato in some fierce exchanges. Both fighters landed bombs on each
other, but Raika was the aggressor throughout the bout and landed more
Angel Bovee of Team Saccurato told WBAN: “We are very
disappointed to see Ann-Marie winning so many rounds in a bout that
never ended up on the judges score cards. Objectively, Ann landed more
punches than Raika in every round but one and completely out boxed
Emiko and we are sad to see the three Japanese judges did not see it
the end of the bout, Raika fell to her knees as if exhausted, but was
rewarded with the decision. Raika, who had promoted the event, improved
to 17-3-1 (6 KOs) while WBC champion Saccurato fell to 13-3-2 (5 KOs).
On May 9, 2008
at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan, in what was said
to be the first time that the Japan Boxing Commission officially
recognized a women’s boxing event, Emiko Raika (136
lbs) won a hard fought six-round majority (58-57,58-56,58-58)
undefeated Natalie Brown
(136¼ lbs), who now fights out of Ontario, Canada.
Raika improved to
KO's), while Brown slipped to
Tube Video - Raika/Brown 1-3 rounds /
Tube Video - Raika/Brown 4-6 rounds)
August 11, 2008 in the main event at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, Ann-Marie Saccurato (135
lbs) defeated Raika (134½ lbs) by a ten-round unanimous
(98-92, 97-92, 97-93) decision to become a three-time WBC Lightweight
World Champion. This result overturned the outcome when
Ann-Marie previously fought Raika in Toyko on a card promoted
by Raika herself. To quiet any skeptics, Ann-Marie came out strong in
the first round and landed several powerful right hands, breaking
Raika's nose. The battle continued with Ann-Marie boxing on the outside
and Raika having a hard time finding her with her punches. In
the sixth round, Raika landed a head butt, which cost her a point on
the judges scorecards. Ann-Marie suffered a cut from the head butt
which required stitches after the fight, but her corner was able to
control the bleeding and Ann-Marie continued to outbox Raika with her
skill and incredible punching power. Ann-Marie improved her
record to 14-3-2 (6 KO's) while Raika dropped to 18-4-1 (6 KO's).
On March 3, 2009 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan, Olivia Gerula of Canada
defeated Raika by an eight round split decision (78-77, 78-76, and
76-77). Joe Koizumi told
FightNews.com: "Olivia Gerula made a good display of her
shifty footwork and accurate shots to win an upset split but
well-received decision over Raika over eight two-minute rounds ...
Gerula landed light but accurate punches from Hamed-like angles, busily
moving side-to-side, to and fro, all the way. Olivia, four years her
junior at 29, outspeeded and outclassed the hard-hitting but slower
Raika ,,, despite her continual nose-bleeding caused by an accidental
butt in the fourth"
Gerula improved her record to 10-10-2 (3 KO's) while Raika fell to
18-5-1 (6 KO's) with her second straight loss at
Emiko Raika vs Layla McCarter in July 2009
© Copyrighted photograph by Mary Ann Owen
July 3, 2009 at South Point Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada
Layla McCarter (135 lbs) of Las Vegas won a hard-fought but clear
10-round unanimous (100-90 x 3) decision in a rematch with Emiko
"Fujin" Raika (134 lbs) for the WBA lightweight title. For more fight photos by Lori
Steinhorst and Mary Ann Owen, see Photo Gallery #505 on
Records Member Site. Layla McCarter improved her record to 32-13-5 (7
On December 6, 2009 at ATC Hall
in Osaka, Japan, Raika (131¾ lbs) KO'd pro debuter Pantip
Muangubon (128¾ lbs) of Thailand at 1:48 in the fourth round of a
On April 1, 2010 at Korakuen
Hall in Tokyo, Japan, Raika (132¼ lbs) KO'd Lamduan Saikham (131½
lbs) of Thailand in the third round of a scheduled eight-rounder.
Saikham had lost her only other pro fight to Australia's Erin McGowan
by a fourth-round TKO.
24, 2010 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Raika (134½ lbs) won a 10-round unanimous (99-91,99-91,98-92)
decision over Bronwyn Wylie (133½ lbs) of Auckland, New
Zealand for the vacant OPBF lightweight title.
Wylie's record dropped to 2-1 (0 KO's) with this loss.
Mizutani KO;d by Raika in
© Copyrighted photo by
April 4, 2011 at at Korakuen
Hall in Tokyo, Japan, Raika (135½
lbs) KO'd Chika Mizutani (135½ lbs) of
Tokyo with a straight right at 1:54 in the fourth round of a scheduled
eight-rounder. Mizutani, who is the OPBF Junior Lightweight
and ABCO Lightweight champion, fell to 9-3-0 (3 KO's) while Raika
advanced to 22-6-1 (9
On September 22, 2011 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan, Jelena Mrdjenovich (128¾
lbs) of Edmonton, Canada won a clear unanimous (98-92,97-93,96-94) ten-round decision over
Emiko Raika (130 lbs) in an eliminator for the WBC Junior
Lightweight title held by Sweden's Frida Wallberg. The bout was close
in the first four rounds, but WBC's open scoring system alerted
Mrdjenocih's team to the need for her to pick up the pace and set down
on her punches more. “Raika can really take a shot,” Mrdjenovich told the Edmonton Sun's Murray Greig. “In the last three rounds I
hit her flush with punches that would’ve knocked out any other opponent
I’ve fought, but she took everything. I broke her nose and cut her up
pretty good, but she just kept coming." Mrdjenovich improved her record to 25-8-1 (12 KO's) while Raika fell to 22-7-1 (9 KO's).
more Japanese women have taken up traditionally male sports such as
karate, kickboxing and wrestling in recent years, many in Japan still
believe that women should not box because they could get hurt.
Raika, who has had a broken nose and an
eyepit fracture during training, shrugs off the possibility of
"When I told
friends that I want to become a
boxer, they were surprised and put down my decision because I am a
woman," she says. "But I
had to resist. I like boxing and I wanted to do it. In fact, I am
expressing myself through boxing. I am fighting not to beat the
opponent but for myself," she says, "I am devoted
to becoming a world champion. By having that goal in mind, I feel I
Yamaki says that Raika's
success has brought more Japanese women into boxing gyms nationwide.
About 10 women
are training at his gym and some hope to become professionals. He
expects the number will increase as Raika
wins more bouts and he acknowledges that some women possess as much
fighting spirit and stamina as men. "The door should not be
closed to women," he said.
Emiko Raika links
To check out fight reports,
complete up-to-date boxing records, with huge digital photos you can go
the WBAN Records
Saturday December 15, 2012