By Derek Bonnett: When it comes to the sporting world, the Western European country of France is best known for its hosting of the Tour de France and the French Open; one is the premier road bicycling event in the world and the other is one of the four Grand Slam tournaments in the world of tennis.
By Derek Bonnett: The Republic of Ghana is located in western portion of the African continent just a few degrees north of the equator. Since the Greenwich Meridian also passes through Ghana it is commonly said that Ghana is closer to the center of the world than any other nation.
By Derek Bonnett: The Republic of Nicaragua is the largest nation in Central America. Yet, it is the least densely populated with demographics comparable to that of the smaller Honduras and Costa Rica. It derives its name from a combination of the famed Chief Nicarao, who once ruled over this land, and the Spanish word “agua” (water).
By Derek Bonnett: Venezuela, officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is a country located on the northern coast of South America bordering Brazil and Colombia. Back in 1992, Hugo Chavez, the now elected president of Venezuela, attempted to overthrow the government of Carlos Andres Perez in an unsuccessful coup.
Each Nation’s Best: Indonesia
By Derek Bonnett: The Republic of Indonesia is an archipelago nation located in Southeast Asia. With a population exceeding 222 million, Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world and the nation with the highest Muslim majority. Indonesia possesses over 300 different cultures including Indian, Arabic, and Chinese.
Sporting culture is vastly male-oriented and often associated with illegal gambling in Indonesia. Non-contact sports like badminton and soccer are the most commonly played form of athletics; however, mock fighting rituals are also present among the islands with a history of tribal warfare. For example, in Sumba the natives partake in an activity called “pasola”, where the participants hurl spears at their opponents while riding on horseback. The event was historically carried out to bless their crops and the bloodshed was believed to be beneficial in fertilizing the land.
As one might expect, Indonesia’s boxing history is not one of great depth; yet, four men since the mid 1980’s have managed to capture legitimate world boxing championships in the lower weight classes. The first of this nation’s world titlists is Ellyas Pical, who managed to hold three reigns as the IBF super flyweight champion between 1985 and 1989. The most significant bout of his career was a showdown with the highly regarded Khaosai Galaxy, which ended unsuccessfully in the fourteen round. Nico Thomas was the second Indonesian to claim a world championship, but he ranks among the most unassuming title challengers in history. Thomas took a 7-6-2 record into his second try at the IBF minimumweight title and emerged victorious against Samuth Sithnaruepol by unanimous decision. However, his reigned only last a matter of months before being dethroned by Eric Chavez. Thomas competed until 2006 and continued to meet some of the best of boxing’s littlest men.
Indonesia’s present pace in boxing hasn’t changed much, but the nation may be enjoying the careers of arguably the two best fighters in its history. The following are four of Indonesia’s best.
4.) Daudy “The Bali Boy” Buhari is a junior welterweight who fights out of the orthodox stance. At twenty-four years of age, he holds an inflated professional record of 36-2-1 (13). Buhari’s father, Daniel, is both a trainer and promoter in Indonesia and he has coached his son from an early age. In his most recent effort this past April, Buhari traveled to Germany to meet undefeated prospect Willy Blain only to lose a razor thin majority decision. His only other defeat also came on points to veteran Motoki Sasaki.
The Bali Boy’s biggest win to date is his 2007 victory over the very well seasoned Baby Lorona Jr. in a bout that saw Buhari going the twelve round distance for the twelfth time on his career. Buhari also ended the unbeaten streak of prospect Kiatchai Singwacha with another twelve round decision. Thus far, he is unranked by any major sanctioning body.
Buhari took a step up in his last bout against Willy Blain and felt the sting of losing a close decision on enemy territory. He’s best off returning to the ring soon and continuing his upward climb in level of opposition. Fighters like Lenin Arroyo or Juaquin Gallardo could provide Buhari with the necessary push he needs to elevate his game to the next level with an acceptable amount of risk.
3.) Angky “Time Bomb” Angkota could be a sleeper as a contender at this time. His professional record stands at an ordinary 21-4 (13), but includes a wealth of experience for the twenty-six year old orthodox fighter. His most recent setbacks have been to AJ Banal (L10) and Saensak Singmanasak (TD4). However, Angkota was stopped by, eventual world champion, Muhammad Rachman in only his second pro bout. He then took a 1-1 record into an Indonesian light flyweight championship bout and lost a twelve round decision to Vicky Tahumil, who was unbeaten in nineteen pro bouts at the time.
Angkota has three highly significant wins on his dossier since 2004. Most impressively, he handed WBO minimumweight champion Donnie Nietes his only defeat as a professional by earning a close decision. He also retired former world champion Joma Gamboa with a unanimous decision victory and won a six round technical-decision win over contender Sonny Boy Jaro.
Angkota’s latest victory came on June 24 as he captured the IBF Pan Pacific flyweight title, which should up his credibility with IBF. In spite of failing against the quickly rising Banal, Time Bomb needs to keep facing contenders and prospects of that caliber to build his own credentials. Bouts with experienced fighters, whom have failed against the division’s best, like Juan Esquer and Ronald Barrera would add more credibility to Angkota’s resume.
2.) Muhammad “The Rock Breaker” Rachman is a seasoned former IBF world champion with over seventy professional bouts. His professional record of 61-6-5 (31) is more than enough to keep the thirty-six year old orthodox fighter in the mix of the world title picture at 105 pounds. In his most recent effort one year ago, Rachman dropped a narrow split decision to Florante Condes to surrender his title. You have to go back almost ten years to April of 1998 to find Rachman’s next most recent defeat. The Rock Breaker has never been stopped.
Rachman has stopped fellow Indonesians Nico Thomas (KO1) and Angkota (KO1), but his ledger goes far deeper than that. He’s defeated Bert Batawang (W10), Benjie Sorolla (W10, KO7), Noel Tunacao (KO2) and Daniel Reyes (W12). His dossier easily matches if not exceeds any of the elite competitors in his division. He is still rated #4 by the IBF.
Rachman was on the shelf for about year. A rematch with Condes fell through in early 2008 and the boxing world missed out if the second was as good as the first. The Rock Breaker won a unanimous decision over Edren Dapudong on June 28 in his hometown of Jakarta. The bout served to shake off some rust, but at thirty-six, Rachman needs to secure more substantial bouts with the big names of his division like Raul Garcia, Oleydong Sithsamerchai, Yutaka Niida, or the recently dethroned Condes. 1.) Chris “The Dragon” John is the consensus number one rated featherweight in the sport of boxing. He’s remained unbeaten in forty-two bouts with a record of 41-0-1 (22) while capturing the WBA crown and defending it successfully eight times. John’s biggest knock is his unwillingness to fight outside of Indonesia, but as a champion he has traveled to Japan and Australia.
John’s most significant victory is the only bout people discuss when examining his career by and large. This is his controversial decision victory over pound for pound entrant Juan Manuel Marquez. However, The Dragon also holds credible wins over Ratanachai Sor Vorapin (W10), Oscar Leon (W12), Derrick Gainer (W12), and Jose Rojas (W12).
John’s popularity outside his homeland will never reach the heights it has in his homeland. However, John does need to step up his level of opposition and make us forget about the controversy surrounding his biggest win. His greatest challengers in Jorge Linares and Robert Guerrero appear to be headed for bigger game at 130 pounds. Having already fought once in 2008, John should look to make his second bout a more substantial challenger. Steve Luevano would be an excellent choice having narrowly retained his WBO champion on June 28 with a draw. However, a rise to junior lightweight to follow Linares and Guerrero would not be a bad move either.
Like a number of other countries under the Each Nation’s Best microscope, Indonesia is presently at its historical height concerning professional boxing. It is unlikely that it will have a drastic rise in it’s production of world class fighters, but of the four discussed here two have already established themselves as credible champions in the same era. It may be to early to tell what the future holds for Buhari and Angkota, but neither man should be dismissed for lack of potential. Indonesian boxing is, at least, on the rise.