All the way back in 2008 there were rumblings that all was not well in the Akiyama fight camp. Reports surfaced that Yoshihiro Akiyama's long time friend and manager, Sawayama Tarou, had made a number of payments via credit card from Akiyama's personal accounts. The payments totaled around 13,550,000 yen (or $140,000). Akiyama described the incident in a translated excerpt from his own book:
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
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!
Today AsianMMA.com reports that something is finally being done about it. Despite Akiyama reporting the crime shortly after it occurred, and his pursuance of a successful 2009 civil suit, it was only this week that Sawayama was finally arrested by police in Osaka, Japan. Sawayama will apparently be facing charges for a number of offenses apart from embezzlement, but because of the ponderously slow nature of Japanese criminal court it is expected that any actual trial is still a long way off.
Akiyama hasn't made much noise since pulling out of a planned fight with Thiago Alves, due to injury last July. And while no date has been set for his next octagon appearance, he appears to have other, more difficult foes ahead of him.