Hirotaka Yokoi Interview

By Masa Fukui Nov 11, 2004
On the way home after the last Pancrase show at Tokyo's NK Bay Hall, we found PRIDE Veteran Hirotaka Yokoi a.k.a. “Kaibutsu-Kun”(Kaibutsu means “Monster”). There was a cartoon in Japan called Kaibutsu-Kun during the early 1980s, and his nickname is taken over from this cartoon, I think, because the main character of this cartoon has big ears and has smiley face.

I, as a shy person, wasn’t really in the mode to interview anybody. But my buddy Stephen Martinez pushed me to get an interview with him. We started the speaking with this Monster-Boy just outside Tokyo Disney Land. (*NK Hall is located right next to Tokyo Disney land.)

MASA FUKUI: Mr. Yokoi, you impressed a lot of people when you fought Rodrigo Nogueira. It was an awesome fight. But not too many people know about you outside of Japan. So tell us something about yourself. First, what is your background?

HIROTAKA YOKOI: I was training Judo. But, I was always watching UWF (Pro-Wrestling founded by Akira Maeda) a lot. Then I was always playing with that UWF technique at Judo training.

FUKUI: So you imitated UWF things in the break time of your Judo training?

YOKOI: Yes. In the break time -- also, while everybody’s training. (laughs)

FUKUI: You UWF'd while other people are seriously training?

YOKOI: Yeah, so my coach was always very angry at me.

FUKUI: (laughs) No doubt. In serious Judo team, you just playing around with pro-wrestling moves. Interesting. Where are you from?

YOKOI: I am from Hokkaido (Northern part of Japan -- very cold like Minnesota).

FUKUI: Do you know a lot of MMA fans are talking about you on the American Internet Forums?

YOKOI: Absolutely no idea what is going on overseas.

FUKUI: Well, some people consider you as the No. 1 heavyweight fighter in Japan.

YOKOI: No! That’s wrong. Maybe I’m fifth. (laughs)

FUKUI: A lot of people on the forums thought you would defeat Heath Herring. What do you think?

YOKOI: I thought I can win too (laughs). Seriously, I thought I can win. But in that fight, he hit me with a lucky punch. The result says I lost, and I don't have a problem with it. That was my fault. I got the punch. Loss is loss. But I still think he and I are at the same stage/same level. Not that different.

FUKUI: Were the knees which Herring was throwing before the first stoppage very effective? The referee stopped the fight, and told Herring not to hit the back of your head.

YOKOI: I don’t think it was illegal kick though.

FUKUI: So you think the first stoppage should be stoppage for the whole fight?

YOKOI: I don’t really remember after I got that hook. That hook kinda blew my memories. When I got back, I was surrounded my corner.

FUKUI: I see. So include that Herring fight, what do you think about your performance in PRIDE so far?

YOKOI: Bad.

FUKUI: But you did very good against Nogueira. OK, is there anyone in particular you want to fight in PRIDE?

YOKOI: I don’t have anybody I really want to fight. But I just want to fight against strong guys. It’s important to earn a "W" in my record. But if I can enjoy fighting, I’ll fight anybody. But my opponent must be very strong guy.

FUKUI: After the Herring fight, did you feel like “I need this technique, I should go this gym to train with this guy to learn some specific skill”or anything?

YOKOI: After the Herring fight? No. But after the Nogueira fight I changed my training routine. After the Herring fight I didn’t feel that I need to change my training routine. I felt more like I trained good. So I didn’t change it.

FUKUI: So who do you train with?

YOKOI: I usually train at TK’s (Tsuyoshi Kohsaka) Gym. And training with Chonan Ryo, Daiju Takase, Kazuhiro Nakamura.

FUKUI: How much do you train?

YOKOI: If it’s before the fight, I train five to six hours a day, six days a week.

FUKUI: Wow, that’s a lot. As a heavyweight fighter, you’re not tall. Isn’t that a big disadvantage for you?

YOKOI: I don’t really care about the size of the body.

FUKUI: How about reach?

YOKOI: Oh, yes, I don’t like long legs and arms.

FUKUI: So do you want to go down to the middleweight?

YOKOI: I don’t really mind. My weight is between those two divisions. So when I get an opponent, then I’ll just adjust my weight either way.

FUKUI: So you told me your pro-wrestling career is starting soon. When will you be joining the pro-wrestling tour?

YOKOI: It’s starting the 11th of this month.

FUKUI: OK, good luck with it. Thank you very much for this opportunity.

YOKOI: Thank you, too.
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