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Boxer Joichiro Tatsuyoshi reveals a will strong as ever, “I’m in it until the end”


©2015 TIFF

A documentary film that follows professional boxer Joichiro Tatsuyoshi through 20 years of his life, Joe, Tomorrow—20 years with Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, a Legendary Boxing Champ, had its world premiere on October 23 as part of the 28th Tokyo International Film Festival’s Panorama section. Boxer Tatsuyoshi and director Junji Sakamoto gave a speech at the screening, held at TOHO CINEMAS Roppongi Hills.

As Tatsuyoshi entered the theater brimming with fans, who were cheering his name as if they were at a boxing match, he gave them a reserved greeting. “Hello, thank you.” When asked how he felt about appearing at the world premiere, he replied modestly, “I’m not an actor or anything, just a boxer, so I’m a little nervous.” He said about the film itself, “I’d like to show it to my father (who passed away in 1999) and my wife’s father. I wonder what they’d think of it.”

The film follows Tatsuyoshi from August 1995, when he sought his fortune as a boxer abroad at age 25, until November 2014, when his second-oldest son Juiki passed his professional boxing test. From being barred from competing domestically because of the Japan Boxing Commission’s rules, to a detached retina in his left eye, Tatsuyoshi has had a stormy boxing career, but even now at aged 45 he is still in the game. When asked about his outlook for the future, he replied, “While I am still an active player, I can’t think about anything what my future would be like.” He displayed his non-stopping ever-strong will, saying, “I’m still active, and I can’t think about anything other than being a champion again.”

Over the course of 20 years, director Sakamoto recorded Tatsuyoshi’s way of life and attitude towards boxing with care. “There’s almost no footage of fights in the film. When you place importance on the gravity in his words, you don’t need that kind of dynamic content as fight scene. Together with the way his face changes over 20 years, I would like the film to be appreciated for that.” Sakamoto reflected back on the filming, “If Tatsuyoshi retired (during the filming) I was going to announce it. But somehow he just kept going, so I did too. I took the opportunity of his son’s professional debut, as well as the fact that it had been 20 years, to finally try going through the huge amount of footage I’d amassed. Tatsuyoshi keeps asking, ‘When are you going to film Joe’s day-after-tomorrow?’” He continued with a smile, “When Tatsuyoshi saw the final film, he said, ‘I’m not finished, so why finish the movie before me?”’

Joe, Tomorrow—20 years with Joichiro Tatsuyoshi, a Legendary Boxing Champ is scheduled for release in February 2016. The 28th Tokyo International Film Festival runs until October 31.

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KEIRIN.JPThe 28th Tokyo International Film Festival will be held with funds provided by Japan Keirin Association.TIFF History
27th Tokyo International Film Festival(2014)