Yul-Woo Lee: The Fiery Korean Boxing Legend

Yul-Woo Lee was a South Korean professional boxer who left an indelible mark on the sport despite his brief career. Born in 1967 in Okcheon County, Lee was the youngest of nine siblings and discovered his passion for boxing while attending high school.

Lee turned professional in 1985 at the tender age of 18, making his debut in four-round bouts. His meteoric rise through the ranks was nothing short of remarkable. In just four years, he captured the WBC light-flyweight title with a TKO victory over German Torres in 1989. However, his reign was short-lived as he lost the belt in his first defense against the formidable Humberto González.

Undeterred, Lee moved up to the flyweight division and claimed the WBA title with a split decision win over Jesús “Kiki” Rojas in 1990. Once again, his championship reign ended abruptly after a single defense, as he lost the belt to Leopard Tamakuma via a 10th-round TKO.

Despite his setbacks, Lee’s fighting spirit and relentless aggression earned him the moniker “Hot Pepper.” His exciting style captivated fans and made him a beloved figure in Korean boxing. Sadly, the damage sustained in his loss to Tamakuma prompted Lee to retire at the tender age of 23, leaving many to wonder what heights he could have reached had he continued.

After hanging up his gloves, Lee dedicated himself to nurturing the next generation of Korean boxers by establishing a boxing school in Daejeon. His passion for the sport never wavered, and he remained a revered figure until his untimely passing in 2009 at the age of 42 due to pancreatic cancer.

Yul-Woo Lee’s legacy extends far beyond his accomplishments in the ring. He embodied the indomitable spirit of Korean boxing, inspiring countless aspiring fighters with his unwavering determination and fiery demeanor. Though his career was brief, Lee’s impact on the sport remains etched in history, a testament to the power of passion and perseverance.


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