News Release

Martin Biney - Two Time Boxing Champion in Japan

The Gathering of Israel and Hearing the Voice of the Lord


Martin Biney, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an accomplished boxer, referee, and two-time Middleweight Boxing Champion in the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC). Martin’s story of finding the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is an example of how people everywhere, hear, and follow the voice of the Lord. Martin’s life and testimony are an example of the Lord’s work to prepare the world for the Savior’s return by gathering scattered Israel and those who love the Lord. No matter where you are in the world you will find those who are the lost sheep of Israel. They are lost to us but they are known of the Lord, and they recognize the Lord’s voice when touched by the Spirit.  In John 10:27 we read, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” 

Martin Biney was born and raised in Accra, Ghana in a Christian home.  He loved to play soccer and played it regularly growing up.  When he was 23 years old (1986), he decided to leave home and move to Japan where he could study automobile mechanics.  He found friends in Japan who played soccer and between his studies, he played soccer all the time. He met and became very good friends with Nae Sugawara (from Saitama-ken, Kasukabe-shi, Japan) while playing soccer.  She and Martin would get together often.  When he was 25 years old, he badly injured his leg while playing his favorite sport. This injury kept him from being able to play soccer well, so he considered other options to help him stay active. As a result, at age 27 he decided to take up boxing to replace his love for soccer. 

Boxing was something new to the young athlete. He joined a local gymnasium and boxing facility where the coaches and staff saw great potential in his natural ability. They focused their teaching and coaching efforts to help him become a skilled boxer. In 1989, when he was 27 years old, he and Nae were married. That was also the year he made his boxing debut.

For several years, Martin worked his way up in the ranks of boxing as a “Middleweight” contender. Between working for a transportation and shipping company as a delivery man and raising a family, he focused on his boxing skills by working out 3 hours each day. In 1994, after years of dedicated hard work, Martin Biney (age 31) won the Middleweight Boxing Championship in the JBC. Everything seemed to be going well for him and his family. 

Shortly after his victory as a Middleweight Champion, Martin was again injured in a life-changing automobile accident. Because of his injuries, he felt like he could not continue with his boxing career. He was discouraged and felt a loss in life. By this time, Martin and Nae were the parents of two young boys, Marvin, and Julius. Martin felt great pressure to provide for his wife and family. 

He continued to stay fit and to work, providing for his family. One day in 1995, the humbled Martin was assigned to deliver a copy machine to a local church. It was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  While making the delivery, he met representatives (missionaries) of the Church, who introduced him to the restoration of the gospel and the Book of Mormon. They gave Martin a copy of the Book of Mormon and initiated lessons with him. 

Martin enjoyed reading the Book of Mormon and recognized the Spirit and direction it provided in his life. A few months later, after receiving a personal testimony, Martin Biney was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church. Many of those in his ward and stake offered friendship and assurance to him and his family. As a new member of the Church, Martin attended every week, but for many years, his wife and children stayed home. Brother Biney states, “After I was baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, I felt blessed. I had more confidence and felt impressed to go back to boxing.”

With new focus and energy on his boxing career, Martin worked hard to rebuild his abilities.  He made many sacrifices to again move up in the ranks of the Middleweight class in an effort to earn a spot in a championship fight. The Lord blessed Martin in his preparations and, in 1997, at the age of 34, Martin Biney again became the Middleweight Boxing Champion in Japan.

Martin Biney’s success provided him with many opportunities, but he remained loyal to his employer with the transportation and delivery company. The JBC approached him soon after his second championship title to offer him an opportunity to become a referee.  In the JBC, boxers are not allowed to fight once they turn 37 years of age. This offer from the JBC provided an opportunity for him to keep his job and to remain engaged in the sport of boxing. After 18 months of referee training, Martin began to regularly officiate as a referee. It has allowed him to continue to step into the boxing ring and to attend other boxing events.

Martin's wife, Nae, later decided to learn more about the Church, and in 2008 she was baptized a member. She and Martin were sealed in the Sapporo Temple in 2021. They love the gospel and enjoy doing things together.  When asked if he and his wife would consider serving a mission, Brother Binney said, he might consider it, but he had ambitions to continue being a referee until he is 80 years old. Who knows, there may be a service missionary opportunity within the sport of boxing.  The Lord has a need for every skill set.   

From the example of Martin Biney and his wife Nae, we gain spiritual eyes to see that people everywhere, in “all” walks of life, even in countries that are not predominantly Christian, there are those who hear the Savior's voice and follow him. Those who hear the Lord and turn to Him are those included in the gathering of Israel.  Our beloved prophet, President Russel M. Nelson, has stated the following about the gathering of Israel, "For centuries, prophets have foretold this gathering, and it is happening right now! As an essential prelude to the Second Coming of the Lord, it is the most important work in the world!" In addition, President Nelson has stated, “When we speak of gathering Israel on both sides of the veil, we are referring, of course, to missionary, temple, and family history workWe are also referring to building faith and testimony in the hearts of those with whom we live, work, and serve. Anytime we do anything that helps anyone—on either side of the veil—to make and keep their covenants with God, we are helping to gather Israel.”  “Let God Prevail” By President Russel M. Nelson, October 2020 General Conference

Martin and Nae serve as faithful members of the Urawa Ward in the Tokyo Japan Stake. Their membership in the Church and their testimonies are an example of finding the Lord’s chosen throughout the earth. The Biney’s love serving in the Primary Organization and find great joy in teaching the gospel to the children in the ward. He continues his passion for the sport of boxing as a referee and as a judge and shares his testimony of the gospel by his example to those he associates with, both in and out of the boxing ring! As a professional boxing referee, he has overseen over 217 bouts. He has also served as a judge in over 638 bouts, providing scores and assessments to determine winners and losers.

He is a great example of what it means to find those called of God in all reaches of life and in all countries of the world. His story helps us to see that we all are children of a loving Heavenly Father and that He is working to gather us together before the Savior’s return. Hurrah for Israel and hurrah for the boxing sensation of Martin Biney, a chosen member in the fold of God and a true Champion for Christ!

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