Yoshihiro Akiyama file photo: Taro Irei | Sherdog.com
Proving once again that the sharks in MMA swim mostly outside of the ring, Bloodyelbow.com and GotMMA.com have unearthed that Yoshihiro Akiyama once accused his (obviously former) manager of embezzlement. Writing in his autobiography, “Two Souls,” Akiyama claims the unnamed party stole anywhere from hundreds of thousands to a million, representing nearly all of his career earnings. That’s bleak stuff.
As is usual whenever a tragic story is brought up, it’s probably valuable to take a lesson from it. Akiyama allegedly wrote that the manager was a “friend” who he had “become acquainted with” during Judo practice. In other words, it’s unlikely the man had an existing role as an adviser. This is standard Velcro-relations, where predators circle what they perceive as a lotto ticket and exploit them however they can. (Mike Tyson got so abused in this manner he should have bruises from his court cases.)
Mismanagement is an unfortunate side effect of MMA’s growth. Good fighters sit on the sidelines for over a year while someone whispers in their ear about better deals; aging fighters take horrible, sadistic fights when it’s perverse for any other reason but financially. An actual advocate for a fighter’s best interests is harder to come by: while it’s difficult to know about any unspoken friction behind the scenes, a guy like Ed Soares manages to keep his stable of fighters active, happy, and with none of the absurd stonewalling seen in other cases. Hope that MC Hammer can continue that proud tradition.