Sendai Tanaka (田中 繊大 Tanaka Sendai, born March 26, 1972) is a Japanese boxing trainer. He is one of the few outstanding trainers from Asia, and has a reputation especially for his focus mitts training.
Tanaka was born in Yamoto, Miyagi (current Yamoto, Higashimatsushima, Miyagi), Japan. At age fourteen when he was in the third grade of high school in 1986, he learned boxing from a former boxer from Chuo University who lived near his family home, and joined Sendai Gym (current Shin-Nihon Sendai Boxing Gym) in the first year of Miyagi Prefectural Fisheries High School. Having finished his five-year amateur career with a record of 18–5, Tanaka won his professional debut in April 1991, and compiled a 2–3–1 record in the featherweight and lightweight divisions by February 1994.
Tanaka had adored Sadahiro Gonohe, the president of Hachinohe Teiken Boxing Gym, who is known as a theorist and trained him. After his retirement as a boxer, Tanaka started training for becoming a boxing trainer with Gonohe at his gym. Gonohe taught him how to train with focus mitts there. The gym had a Mexican trainer, and Latins who speak Spanish frequently visited there. At first he had been studying Spanish on his own. Then, a Mexican Spanish teacher, an acquaintance at the gym, came to give him lessons for free. He also actively participated in the Spanish-speaking people's parties and masses, where he got acquainted with an Argentine family, and lived together with them like a homestay for over a year.
Mexico, United States, and Argentina
In February 1995, Tanaka who had mastered Spanish language went to Mexico to practice, with about 7,100 dollars in the amount of time earned by the part-time job. He began working in Mexico, but his final destination was Argentina. Tanaka loves Argentina, and boxing in that country. Whenever Tanaka has time to spare, he headed from Mexico to Argentina.
When Tanaka was twenty-two years old, the twenty-one year old Marco Antonio Barrera ahead of his first world title shot in March 1995 came to the gym where he was training, and asked for his focus mitts workout. After training for the day, Tanaka agreed to become his co-trainer with Rudy Pérez in response to his request. Barrera won that first title shot, and Tanaka guided him to a victory in the fight against Naseem Hamed in April 2001. During Barrera's rest period, Tanaka observed the teaching methods of a variety of trainers and learned at gatherings or conferences in Mexico, the United States and Argentina. He also received their guidance to learn the techniques, and coached boxers there.
When he started living in Mexico, he heard boxers trained by the International Boxing Hall of Famer Argentine Amílcar Bursa (1922–2011) saying that they could have lived a happy boxer life since Bursa was in their corners. When Bursa had coached the Golden Boy-promoted boxers in Los Angeles and Big Bear City, California, Tanaka studied under him. Tanaka recognized Bursa as the best master and called him Maestro. He received his guidance everytime he met Bursa.
In December 2002, Akihiko Honda who has been looking for excellent trainers who can bring out the boxers' ability all over the world, requested him to become a trainer of his Teiken Boxing Gym. Tanaka started to coach in Japan at times other than Barrera's training, and signed a deal with Teiken Boxing Gym in May 2003. While instructing Jorge Linares intensively, he made some other boxers spar with Barrera, or made them participate in his training camps. In Linares' first world title shot in Las Vegas, Nevada, in July 2007, Tanaka served as the chief second among Rudy Pérez, Rudy Hernandez and Kenny Adams. Just before the gong sounded, Tanaka tapped on his back saying that "Thanks for making me a second of the world champion. Let's go". Tanaka later told that he changed the plan during the fight and Linares neatly ran it since he was a superior boxer.
Tanaka has so far trained the world champions such as Erik Morales, Lorenzo Parra, Edwin Valero, Jorge Linares, Román González and Takahiro Aō et al. In March 2011, Tanaka's hometown Higashimatsushima was devastated by the Tōhoku earthquake. His two-story family home's first floor was submerged by the tsunami. Although his family was safe, his nearby relatives were swallowed by the tsunami. However, since Aō's first defense was scheduled in early April, Tanaka remained in Tokyo saying nothing about it, and continued training.
Every morning, He has been running and training his abdominal muscles. While he currently works as an employee of Teiken Boxing Gym, he also hopes to train boxers in various countries and improve his skill as a boxing trainer (as of February 2008). Tanaka visited Bursa in Santa Fe, Argentina, in January 2010. He daily went to the boxing gym with Bursa to coach boxers there. After they finished all boxers' workout, Bursa make Tanaka wear gloves to train him. Then, they went to the sports gym run by Bursa's daughter, and talked about the history of boxing or Bursa's own in his room within that gym. He has continued to be a trainer in order to become an Amílcar Bursa.
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