Last April, UFC middleweight Yoshihiro Akiyama released an autobiography entitled Two Souls: Heel or Hero in Japan. One of the topics touched upon in the book was Akiyama's falling out with a longtime friend and business manager in 2008.
This past Tuesday, Akiyama posted about the subject on his blog, and the excellent Korean site Got MMA? has provided this translation:
It is embarrassing to share this personal story but all of my fight money, the money I've been saving from beginning of my MMA career, is gone. I had a friend who I became acquainted with when I was practicing judo. We became close friends and I respected him very much as a person. But basically, he has embezzled all the money. That's hundreds and thousands of dollars. [Got MMA? says that the number mentioned in the book is closer to a million dollars.]
It's big money, I know!
It's been three years and that person is living a happy life as if nothing was wrong, and I think this is really unfair!
I've been seeking advice from some people to get my money back.
This time, I found a new attorney and, fortunately, it seems like there's going to be some new progress.
I really hope this doesn't happen to you!
It was after the 2008 incident when Akiyama (by his own admission) lost his focus and accepted a few odd match-ups in Dream, namely fights with pro wrestler Katsuyori Shibata and neophyte karateka Masanori Tonooka. Shortly thereafter, he signed on with the UFC.
Judging by the lifestyle depicted on his blog and the fact that he opened his own gym in Tokyo last spring, it would appear that Akiyama hasn't been financially crippled by the betrayal. Nonetheless, it's good to hear that the wrong may eventually be righted, and the story should serve as yet another cautionary tale for young fighters to be wary of those they entrust with their careers and funds.