Boxing athlete overcomes physical challenge to reach goal

Koichi Tanji
Koichi Tanji
Bruce Kawano
Bruce Kawano

By Jason Tang - bio | email

KALIHI (KHNL) - For some athletes, the love of the sport helps them overcome any, and all obstacles.

This is especially true for one boxer who is overcoming both a physical challenge, and the doubt others have cast on him.

His home country of Japan banned in from the competing in the sport.

Not because of something he did, but because of something he was born with.

"He told me he wanted to do amateur boxing, I was kind of skeptical at first, I looked at his hand, and made my doctor give him a physical, so my doctor went to HMC, watched him work out, and the doctor gave me the OK," said Bruce Kawano, a boxing trainer.

Since getting the green light, Koichi Tanji's fought in four sanctioned USA-Boxing Matches, and so far he's undefeated with two knockouts.

"I don't let any body to decide what I'm going to be, I'm going to decide what I'm going to be," said Tanji.

Tanji says Japan banned him from competing due to the liability if something were to happen to him.

He hopes his story will also inspire others to overcome their obstacles whatever they may be.

"To me this is natural because I was born like this, so for them to, don't think like, I'm disability so I can't," said Tanji.  "Don't limit that."

Everyday Tanji trains in the sport he loves, and Kawano says it easy to explain why he's so motivated.

"He's like a machine gun, he won't stop, I think he kind of wants to prove that he can do it, and he's not going to let his handicap hold him back."

Tanji wasn't born with a normal right hand, but he's making it for up in other areas.

"He has the heart of a champion, and that's one thing you gotta be born with. You can't teach that," said Kawano.

Koichi's next fight is in Kansas city next week, his parents and sister are flying out from Japan to watch him.

His ultimate goal is to be a professional boxing champion.