[div class=”notice” class2=”icon”]The following is from an article on LiverKick.com, part of the MiddleEasy Network.[/div]
This isn’t purely kickboxing, but more a general look at the world of MMA in Japan. Sure, FEG has rounded up some of their benefactors to help them with their latest venture and we have at least one DREAM show planned and rumors of something going on with K-1, but outside of that, things in Japan are bleak at best. The sad truth is, for something to be popular in Japan there is a need for a figurehead, a public figure to help generate interest. If you look at someone like Antonio Inoki, he is still able to put on shows using his name alone to get TV contracts, advertising deals, sponsorships and top fighters and professional wrestlers to work with him.
In the same vein as Inoki is Akira Maeda. Akira Maeda was a huge professional wrestling star in the 80’s and 90’s and one of the first to really push for martial arts to thrive. Names like Akira Maeda, Nobuhiko Takada, Antonio Inoki, Satoru Sayama and Masa Funaki should roll off of the tongue for anyone who fancies themselves a MMA historian, and the irony in that is that each man made a name for themselves in the pre-scripted world of professional wrestling. Each man can be traced to a certain branch of the MMA lineage, Pancrase for Funaki, SHOOTO for Sayama, RINGS for Maeda and PRIDE for Takada. Inoki is in his own world as he was the one that inspired everyone else and has had his nose stuck into every MMA and kickboxing venture to make it big in Japan.