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5'4" 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 the 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," says Raika.

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 of 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.

Yamaki was impressed by Raika and asked her to join his gym and turn professional. She now devotes full time to boxing and Yamaki provides her with her rent and food.

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 fighter.

On December 12, 2000 at Shimokita Town Hall in Tokyo, she won a six-round decision over Ann Jihe, a debut fighter.

Raika vs. KikukawaOn March 2, 2001 at Kitazawa Town Hall in Tokyo, she fought top-ranked Japanese bantamweight Miki Kikukawa, winning by a six-round split decision. 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 tomorrow."

On July 20, 2001 she returned to the ring in Tokyo and TKO'd debut fighter Mika Harikae in the third round.

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 rematch with Miki Kikukawa to become the Japanese featherweight champion.

On 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 champion. The fight was televised as part of an all-female card seen by an estimated 26 million viewers in Japan, Korea. South-East Asia and Taiwan, with an estimated 26 million viewers.  McCarter improved to 10-7-3 (2 KO's).

On 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. 

Raika vs. AnyosOn December 18, 2002 in Tokyo, she defeated Sharon Anyos of Australia by a ten-round split (98-97,98-99,99-98) decision 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 Australia. 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 (129 lbs) of the United States won the WIBA Super Featherweight Title with a ten-round unanimous decision over Raika  (128 lbs).  Hallback improved to 24-4-1 (11 KO).

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 six-rounder.

On December 14, 2006 in Tokyo, Japan, Raika (133 lbs)  won 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 KOs).

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 of 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 big punches."   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 that way” At 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) decision over previously undefeated Natalie Brown (136 lbs),  who now fights out of Ontario, Canada.  Raika improved to 18-3-1 (6 KO's), while Brown slipped to  5-1-0.  (You Tube Video - Raika/Brown 1-3 rounds / You Tube Video - Raika/Brown 4-6 rounds)

On August 11, 2008 in the main event at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, Ann-Marie Saccurato (135 lbs) defeated Raika (134 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 home.

Emiko Raika vs Layla McCarter in July 2009
Copyrighted photograph by Mary Ann Owen

On 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 the WBAN Records Member Site. Layla McCarter improved her record to 32-13-5 (7 KO's).

On December 6, 2009 at ATC Hall in Osaka, Japan, Raika (131 lbs) KO'd pro debuter Pantip Muangubon (128 lbs) of Thailand at 1:48 in the fourth round of a scheduled eight-rounder.

On April 1, 2010 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan, Raika (132 lbs) KO'd Lamduan Saikham (131 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.

On September 24, 2010 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Raika (134 lbs) won a 10-round unanimous (99-91,99-91,98-92) decision over Bronwyn Wylie (133 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 Raikia in April 2011
Mizutani KO;d by Raika in April 2011
Copyrighted photo by Samart

On April 4, 2011 at at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan, Raika (135 lbs) KO'd Chika Mizutani (135 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 KO's).

On September 22, 2011 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan, Jelena Mrdjenovich (128 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).

Although 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 injuries, however. 

"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 become stronger."

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 RaikaOther Emiko Raika links

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Page last updated: Saturday December 15, 2012


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