by David P. Greisman
Former 115-pound champion Jiro Watanabe was arrested last week in Osaka, Japan, for allegedly being part of a trio of yakuza who were accused of hiding that fact while playing golf on a course that bans yakuza members, according to English-language newspaper The Japan Times.
Watanabe, the newspaper said, “is a senior member of a group affiliated” with “major underworld syndicate Yamaguchi-gumi.” Also charged were a “senior gangster” with the syndicate and “another yakuza figure who was not identified,” the article said. They were on the golf course in March 2011, according to the article.
“Police have recently been cracking down on mobsters who play at golf courses that ban yakuza,” the article said. “There have been cases in which prosecutors have been unable to establish criminal cases against mobsters who were unaware of local ordinances banning them, and others in which at the district court level gangsters were found not guilty.”
Watanabe, 57, fought as a pro between 1979 and 1986. He won a World Boxing Association title at 115 pounds in 1982, defending it six times before vying for the World Boxing Council’s belt in 1984, according to BoxRec.com.
Watanabe is listed on Cyber Boxing Zone as having been the division’s lineal champion from 1984 to 1986. He lost that distinction with his fifth defense of the WBC belt, a unanimous decision loss to Gilberto Roman in 1986.
That was his last fight. He retired with a record of 26-2 with 17 knockouts.
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at [email protected]