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‘Ageless Eiji’ Takes on Pro Boxers and World Peace

Paul McLane is U.S. editor in chief.He’s the flyweight one writer nicknamed “The Compassionate Pugilist.”I recently shared with you a first person commentary from Eiji Yoshikawa in Tokyo about his experience of the natural disaster in Japan. Eiji is a

Paul McLane is U.S. editor in chief.

He’s the flyweight one writer nicknamed “The Compassionate Pugilist.”

I recently shared with you a first-person commentary from Eiji Yoshikawa in Tokyo about his experience of the natural disaster in Japan.

Eiji is a colleague at our parent company NewBay Media. He also is a 50-year-old boxer who recently returned to his sport as a way to teach young people about peace and the importance of following their dreams.

I mention this because he will be in the ring for a charity exhibition in Las Vegas, concurrent with the NAB Show. If you’re in town you can watch.

Eiji took up boxing at age 19 at a famous Tokyo gym. “I ended up as a small-time four-rounder, just like Rocky Balboa in the first film,” he told me. But the experience taught him some lessons. He listed them:

– Don’t run away.
– Face your challenges.
– Make no excuses.
– Life is three minutes short. Do it now.
– Never fight outside of a ring.
– Don’t hurt people.
– Strength not to fight is the bravest thing.

Eiji — who counts among his heroes Nelson Mandela, Mohandas Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King — went back to the ring in May of 2010 on “Children’s Day” in Japan. It had been 27 years since he retired, the length of time Mandela spent in jail. “He came out and worked on peace,” Eiji said of Mandela. “I wanted to follow him.” Eiji asked for an opponent taller, heavier and 20 years younger than himself, to make the lesson more obvious: Don’t be afraid to take on the big guys.

He’s also been giving “peacemaking lectures” and sparring with kids in Las Vegas-area schools for six years, timing his visits with the annual broadcast convention. He has spoken at Centennial High School, Frias Elementary, Leavitt Middle School and the Andre Agassi School, a public K–12 charter school for underserved children. He shows a documentary about his comeback fight and tells people, “It’s nice if you look great, but I don’t. Even if I don’t look great, I feel great. I do what I want to do. Also, people are more impressed and moved when someone is fighting hard, not worrying how he looks to other people. Because what matters is how it looks to yourself.”

If you want to support his effort, you can attend the boxing exhibition Tuesday April 12 at 5 p.m. at Johnny Tocco’s on West Charleston Blvd., “a real local boxing gym that looks like those gyms in ‘Rocky’ or ‘Million Dollar Baby’ where real people are working out.” It’s about 10 minutes away by cab. There’s no cost, but donations raised on site will benefit the Agassi School. He’ll also box Monday at the Agassi gym.