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Ryota Murata (R) of Japan exchanges punches with Esquiva Falcao Florentino (L) of Brazil during the Men''s Middle (75kg) Boxing final bout on Day 15 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on August 11, 2012 in London, England. Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Ryota Murata earns rare boxing gold for Japan

18 Oct 2012
In the 14th of our series of 20 OCA Award-winners for outstanding performances at the London Olympics, Japanese middleweight Ryota Murata is in the spotlight. The OCA Awards will be presented at the OCA Banquet in Macau, China, on November 8. Middleweight Ryota Murata defeated Brazil's Esquiva Florentino Falcao 14-13 in the men's -75kg final to win Japan's first Olympic boxing gold medal since the Tokyo Games in 1964.

Murata, a lean and mean 1.82 metres, had beaten his rival 24-11 in the semi-finals of the 2011 World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, on the way to a silver medal, but had to work much harder this time on the biggest stage of all. His triumph was Japan's first in Olympic boxing since bantamweight Takao Sakurai in Tokyo 48 years ago.

"I think being able to work hard is a talent. I have that talent," Murata, 26, said of his unexpected success. "I'm proud of my efforts. "I work at a university and all my focus was on the boxing, so now I can concentrate on paying back all the teachers, students and families."

Murata, who studied Business Administration at Toyo University in Tokyo, started boxing when he was in junior high school. After failing to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games, Murata retired from boxing and concentrated on coaching, but decided to come back one and a half years later. He is from the ancient city of Nara, one of the most celebrated tourist hotspots in Japan for locals and visitors alike.
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