|Height||6' 3" (191 cm)|
|Birth Date||January 24, 1959|
|Fighting Out Of||Osaka, Japan|
|Akira Maeda Pictures||Official Website|
Akira Maeda is a Japanese professional wrestler and mixed martial artist, also known as Kwik-kik-Lee for his time on the British Wrestling show World of Sport. He is credited as the innovator of the shoot-style of professional wrestling during the late 80's. Maeda's interest in martial arts developed as a schoolboy while watching the "Ultraman" television series. By the time he was in high school, his only interests were motorcycles and karate.
Maeda formerly bore the name Il-Myung Koh, as he was born a third-generation "zainichi" Korean (or person maintaining his Korean nationality, although permanently residing in Japan). He has since taken Japanese citizenship.
|Record||7 - 5 - 0 (Win – Loss – Draw)|
|Loss||Aleksandr Karelin||Decision||Rings: Final Capture||2/21/1999||3||5:00|
|Win||Volk Han||Submission||Rings: Battle Dimensions Tournament 1997 Final||1/21/1998||1||4:24|
|Loss||Kiyoshi Tamura||N/A||Rings: Battle Dimensions Tournament 1997 Final||1/21/1998||N/A||N/A|
|Win||Mitsuya Nagai||N/A||Rings: Battle Dimensions Tournament 1997 Final||1/21/1998||N/A||N/A|
|Win||Nikolai Zouev||Submission (Rear Naked Choke)||Rings: Mega Battle Tournament 1997 Semifinal 1||10/25/1997||1||5:17|
|Win||Andrei Kopylov||Submission (Rear Naked Choke)||Rings: Extension Fighting 7||9/26/1997||1||8:32|
|Loss||Volk Han||Submission (Leg Lock)||Rings: Extension Fighting 2||4/22/1997||1||8:47|
|Win||Maurice Smith||N/A||Rings: Budokan Hall 1997||1/22/1997||N/A||N/A|
|Win||Yoshihisa Yamamoto||Submission||Rings: Budokan Hall 1996||1/24/1996||N/A||N/A|
|Win||Dick Vrij||N/A||Rings: Battle Dimensions Tournament 1995 Opening Round||10/21/1995||N/A||N/A|
|Loss||Chris Dolman||Submission (Armbar)||Rings Holland: Free Fight||2/19/1995||2||4:07|
|Loss||Vok Han||Submission||Rings: Budokan Hall 1995||1/25/1995||N/A||N/A|
Maeda entered the New Japan Pro Wrestling dojo in 1978 and debuted the same year. Maeda was able to absorb and apply the "Strong Style" (set as New Japan's norm by Antonio Inoki), which solidified his status as a strong member of the undercard. Like many other New Japan stars before and after him, Maeda embarked on a foreign tour to the United Kingdom, where he adopted the Kwik-kik-Lee moniker. In 1983, he participated in the first International Wrestling Grand Prix tournament, won by Hulk Hogan. He was one of three Japanese entrants to the international tournament, alongside Inoki and Rusher Kimura. In 1984, he, Kengo Kimura and other New Japan defectors formed the Japanese UWF. The promotion folded a year later, and Maeda returned to New Japan, where he became one of the promotion's biggest stars.
For the next few years, he would become more known for his actions outside the ring than his actions inside. He became involved in a real-life feud with New Japan booker and top star, Antonio Inoki, refusing to work with him in what could have been a huge moneymaking program. In April 1986, he was involved in one of the most surreal moments in wrestling history during a match with André the Giant; neither man could agree to losing the match, and Maeda proceeded to shoot kick André's legs and then back off, while the giant could only stand there defenseless. After 15 minutes of this, André voluntarily laid down to be pinned, but Akira refused to do. Antonio Inoki eventually came to the ring and demanded the match to end, much to the bewilderment of the audience. The most infamous moment of his career came on November 19, 1987. During a six-man tag team match, as Riki Chōshū was putting opponent, Osamu Kido, in a Scorpion Deathlock, Maeda delivered a legitimate kick to Chōshū's face, breaking his orbital bone. The resulting injury would sideline Chōshū for well over a month. Maeda was suspended, and later fired, by New Japan.
In 1988, Maeda reformed the Universal Wrestling Federation with Nobuhiko Takada and others, this time as its number one star, using the notoriety he gained in New Japan to draw large crowds. In the UWF, he became the biggest draw in Japan, and his emphasis on clean finishes influenced other promotions, such as New Japan and All-Japan Pro Wrestling to follow suit. Maeda's UWF became the first promotion to hold a show at the Tokyo Dome, drawing 60,000 to watch Maeda defeat Willy Wilhelm in the main event. In 1990, the UWF dissolved due to disagreements over the direction of the company.
Mixed Martial Arts
Maeda would go on to form Fighting Network RINGS in 1991, while Nobuhiko Takada formed Union of Wrestling Force International with most of the UWF roster. Fighting Network RINGS would no longer bill itself as wrestling in 1997, after the collapse of UWF International. In 1999 he retired from active competition after being defeated in a match against three-time Olympic Gold medalist Alexandr Karelin, drawing an incredible gate of $2.5 million. The match gained widespread media coverage, including mentions in The New York Times and Sports Illustrated.
Following Maeda's retirement, he switched his promotion's style from shoot-style to real mixed martial arts fighting. The new Rings held two King of Kings tournaments, which introduced such mixed martial artists as Fedor Emelianenko, Dan Henderson, Randy Couture, Jeremy Horn and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to the Japanese audience. RINGS folded in 2002, due to the growing popularity of PRIDE.
When K-1 wanted to start a new Mixed Martial Arts group after their previous attempt with Romanex, FEG (the group that owns K-1) hired Akira Maeda as a consultant for the new group called HERO's. However FEG retired HERO's in February 2008 to team up with former PRIDE staff to create DREAM.
Akira Maeda's new project is now called "The Outsider", an amateur MMA group that uses HERO's rules.
Championships and Accomplishments
- European Union
- European Union Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Fighting Network RINGS
- RINGS Battle Dimensions Tournament winner in 1993-1994
- RINGS Battle Dimensions Tournament winner in 1995-1996
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- IWGP Tag Team Championship (2 times) - with Osamu Kido (1) and Nobuhiko Takada (1)
- World Wrestling Federation
- WWF International Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #40 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003.
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
- Promoter of the Year (1989)
- Wrestler of the Year (1988)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)