Emiko Raika (来家 恵美子, born January 24, 1975 in Kyoto, Japan) is a Japanese female professional boxer. The former WIBA Featherweight Champion on the World, Raika is considered one of the greatest Japanese female boxers of all time.
Although more Japanese women have taken up traditionally male sports such as karate, kickboxing and wrestling in recent years, many in Japan still believe that women should not box, because of the injury risk. Raika, who has suffered a broken nose and an eye socket fracture in fights, shrugs off the possibility of injuries. "When I told friends that I want to become a boxer, they were surprised and put down my decision because I am a woman," said Raika. "But I had to resist. I like boxing and I wanted to do it. In fact, I am expressing myself through boxing. I am fighting not to beat the opponent, but for myself."
"I felt as if I were not living and felt myself destroying." said Raika, "I was very weak mentally. I could choose to have an ordinary life, but I wanted more that just that - to become strong."
Always enjoying rough sports such as wrestling and rugby, Raika joined a local boxing gym that she found while commuting to work at a battery manufacture, and trained to compete as an amateur boxer.
Raika had three wins in three amateur fights, and was named the most outstanding woman in a local amateur tournament, where she was spotted by Toshihiro Yamaki, a Tokyo gym owner.
With a growing number of Japanese women becoming interested in boxing, a group of gym owners had organized a women's boxing association in 1999, with Yamaki as its secretary general, called the Japanese Women's Boxing Commission (JWBC).
Yamaki was impressed by Raika, and asked her to join his gym and turn professional. She now devotes full time to boxing.
Raika won the WIBA Featherweight World title from Australian Sharon Anyos in 2001, and successfully defended the title in a 2002 rematch. After destroying an overmatched Shelby Walker in two rounds for her second title defence on May 23, 2004, Raika made her 3rd title defence against the rugged (and undefeated) brawler Melissa Fiorentino on September 18, 2004, in Kyoto, Japan. It was called the WIBA 2004 Fight of the Year, Raika again successfully defended her crown via 10 round decision in a brutal toe-to-toe slugfest.
On May 20, 2006, in Cholla Province, Korea, Raika moved up another 2 weight classes, to 140 pounds, where she won a 10 round unanimous decision over Won Mi Chung, for the IFBA Light Welterweight World Title.