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Akira Shoji (小路晃) (born January 31, 1974) is a retired Japanese mixed martial artist and professional wrestler. He is most known as being a regular in almost all the beginning Pride Fighting Championship Shoji was in Pride 1 to Pride 7, and was part of the first Pride open weight Grand Prix in 2000.[1] Shoji was consistently a regular in Pride, and moved from Heavyweight to Light Heavyweight (Middleweight in Pride) due to his smaller stature.

Akira Shoji
Born (1974-01-31) January 31, 1974 (age 45)
Uozu, Toyama, Japan
Other namesMr. Pride, The Last Japanese, The Japanese Jiu-Jitsu's Warrior Monk
Height5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight205 lb (93 kg; 14.6 st)
Light Heavyweight
TeamWajyutsu Keisyukai Brightness
Teacher(s)Yoshinori Nishi
Years active1996-2011
Mixed martial arts record
By knockout2
By submission5
By decision7
By knockout8
By submission3
By decision6
Other information
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog

Despite his losing record, Shoji was a constant favourite of the audience, and was nicknamed "Mr. Pride" for his popularity and adherence to the mixed martial arts promotion. He was known for his mic performance, die hard spirit, stellar submission escapes, razor sharp armbar and a fighting spirit demonstrated by his willingness to take on all comers. According to fight commentator Stephen Quadros and John Hyams, director of the documentary "The Smashing Machine", Shoji cleaned his house and prepared his will before every competition in case he is killed during the fight.[1]

He also worked as a judge for the Dream organization.

Mixed martial arts careerEdit

A national-ranked judoka since highschool, Shoji firstly dreamed with being a professional wrestler, but he developed an interest in mixed martial arts due to his schoolmate Kazunari Murakami, who convinced him to try on the Wajyutsu Keishukai gym. After graduating from Chukyo University, Shoji joined the dojo full-time and became a professional fighter. He represented WK at the Lumax Cup tournament, but he was eliminated at the first round.


Shoji had his worldwide debut taking on Renzo Gracie from the Gracie family at the first event of Pride in 1997. Though clearly outclassed, Shoji held his own and escaped from numerous submission attempts through the match, including an armbar and an omoplata which were almost fully locked, while regularly landing low kicks and some knees to the head. After thirty minutes, the match was ruled a draw due to the absence of judges. Nonetheless, Shoji got acclaimed by the crowd for his performance, which included grabbing the mic after the match and yelling "What do you say now, Gracies? Who said the Japanese were the weakest?" (Nani ga Gracie jā! Nani ga Nippon sai jaku jā?)

He returned at the next two events of Pride, submitting Juan Mott via rear naked choke and drawing with Takada Dojo understudy and fellow underdog Daijiro Matsui. However, his biggest victory came at Pride 4, where Shoji faced another unbeaten Brazilian jiu-jitsu exponent, Wallid Ismail. The Brazilian was aggressive and held Akira mounted for the first round, with Shoji reversing him every time. At the second round, however, the Japanese got the upper hand over a tired Ismail and landed multiple answered punches, which prompted the referee to stop the match for a win for Shoji.

Akira next faced Ukrainian Igor Vovchanchyn, who would become one of Pride's top strikers. Knowing the strengths of his adversary, Shoji played conservatively and avoided the KO for a decision loss. Shortly after, Shoji bounced back with another shocking victory in a match against Ultimate Fighting Championship champion and former King of Pancrase Guy Mezger. The fight was slow and strategic, with long battles on the clinch, with Mezger landing several strikes, but Shoji eventually found opportunities to take Mezger down and perform ground and pound. The judges gave the split decision to the Japanese, which was met with controversy in the United States.[2]

At the Pride Grand Prix 2000 tournament, Shoji was first pitted against luta livre practitioner Ebenezer Fontes Braga, getting a unanimous decision victory. He advanced round, but he was then eliminated by the eventual winner Mark Coleman.

Shoji's last match in Pride would be in its very last event in 2007, fighting Gilbert Yvel and losing by TKO after a brief grappling exchange.


While working as a fighting referee in Dream, Shoji considered a final retirement match.[1] He got his will at DEEP 53 in a match against Kazuo Misaki, which he lost by TKO in the second round. Both Misaki and Shoji broke out in tears after the fight, overwhelmed by emotions, knowing it was Shoji`s final match.

Professional wrestling careerEdit

Hustle (2008-2009)Edit

In 2008, Shoji began working in professional wrestling company Hustle, hosted by Dream Stage Entertainment along with Pride, and became a regular roster of the promotion. He debuted as a participant the Hustle Grand Prix tournament, being invited by famous idol Yuko Ogura and granted the ring name of "Ko♥Ri♥Ta♥N", but he was defeated by Osaka Pro Wrestling representative Zeus after getting hit with a frying pan.

Shoji then joined Generalissimo Takada's villainous faction Takada Monster Army, invited by Yuji Shimada, and he changed his name to "Private Shimada". In 2009, after losing a match to Wataru Sakata and Kurodaman, he was put on a trial by Shimada and threatened with expulsion if he lost a next singles match against Sakata, which eventually became a 3-way match with fellow Monster Army member Commander An Jo. Shoji have his best, but Shimada and An Jo crashed the match and made him lose. Kicked out of Takada's faction, Akira joined Sakata and got his revenge over Anjo, defeating him and Rey Ohara in a tag team match. remained as his ally until the end of the promotion.

Smash (2010-2011)Edit

Later HUSTLE was closed, Shoji joined Smash, a new promotion where Yoshihiro Tajiri works as wrestler and producer, and had the feuds with Kim Nam-Hoon, Yoshiaki Yago and Minoru Suzuki. On January 2011, Shoji announced that he had quit professional wrestling.

Mixed martial arts recordEdit

Professional record breakdown
36 matches 14 wins 17 losses
By knockout 2 8
By submission 5 3
By decision 7 6
Draws 5
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 14–17–5 Kazuo Misaki TKO (punches) DEEP: 53 Impact April 22, 2011 2 1:13 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 14–16–5 Gilbert Yvel TKO (punches) PRIDE 34 April 8, 2007 1 3:04 Saitama, Japan
Win 14–15–5 Carlos Toyota Decision (majority) DEEP: clubDEEP Toyama: Barbarian Festival 5 November 19, 2006 2 5:00 Toyama, Japan
Loss 13–15–5 Kyacey Uscola KO (punches) KOTC: All Stars October 28, 2006 2 2:23 Reno, Nevada, United States
Win 13–14–5 Todd Medina Decision (unanimous) KOTC: Rapid Fire August 4, 2006 3 5:00 San Jacinto, California, United States
Loss 12–14–5 Kazuo Misaki Technical Submission (guillotine choke) DEEP: 23 Impact February 5, 2006 1 2:32 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 12–13–5 Mark Weir KO (head kick) Cage Rage 14 December 3, 2005 1 0:17 London, England
Loss 12–12–5 Dean Lister Technical Submission (triangle choke) PRIDE Bushido 6 April 3, 2005 1 3:13 Yokohama, Japan
Loss 12–11–5 Paulo Filho Decision (split) PRIDE Bushido 4 July 19, 2004 2 5:00 Nagoya, Japan
Win 12–10–5 Yukio Kawabe TKO (punches) PRIDE Bushido 3 May 23, 2004 1 0:18 Yokohama, Japan
Loss 11–10–5 Murilo Rua KO (flying knee) PRIDE Shockwave 2003 December 31, 2003 1 2:24 Saitama, Japan
Loss 11–9–5 Maurício Rua KO (punches) PRIDE Bushido 1 October 5, 2003 1 3:47 Saitama, Japan
Win 11–8–5 Dustin Denes Decision (unanimous) Absolute Fighting Championships 4 July 19, 2003 3 5:00 Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States
Win 10–8–5 Alex Stiebling Decision (split) PRIDE 25 March 16, 2003 3 5:00 Yokohama, Japan
Loss 9–8–5 Paulo Filho Submission (armbar) PRIDE 22 September 29, 2002 1 2:48 Nagoya, Japan
Win 9–7–5 David Roberts Submission (armbar) KOTC 13: Revolution May 17, 2002 2 4:46 Reno, Nevada, United States
Loss 8–7–5 Jeremy Horn Decision (unanimous) PRIDE 18 December 23, 2001 3 5:00 Fukuoka, Japan
Loss 8–6–5 Semmy Schilt KO (knee & punches) PRIDE 16 September 24, 2001 1 8:19 Osaka, Japan
Loss 8–5–5 Dan Henderson TKO (punches & knees) PRIDE 14 May 27, 2001 3 3:18 Yokohama, Japan
Loss 8–4–5 Ricardo Almeida Decision (unanimous) PRIDE 12 December 9, 2000 2 5:00 Saitama, Japan
Win 8–3–5 Herman Renting Submission (armbar) PRIDE 10 October 31, 2000 1 3:48 Osaka, Japan
Win 7–3–5 John Renken Submission (armbar) PRIDE 9 June 4, 2000 1 6:44 Nagoya, Japan
Loss 6–3–5 Mark Coleman Decision (unanimous) PRIDE Grand Prix 2000 Finals May 1, 2000 1 15:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 6–2–5 Ebenezer Fontes Braga Decision (unanimous) PRIDE Grand Prix 2000 Opening Round January 30, 2000 1 15:00 Tokyo, Japan
Draw 5–2–5 Ryushi Yanagisawa Draw Pancrase: 1999 Anniversary Show September 18, 1999 1 15:00 Urayasu, Chiba, Japan
Win 5–2–4 Larry Parker Decision (unanimous) PRIDE 7 September 12, 1999 3 5:00 Yokohama, Japan
Win 4–2–4 Guy Mezger Decision (split) PRIDE 6 July 4, 1999 3 5:00 Yokohama, Japan
Loss 3–2–4 Igor Vovchanchyn Decision (unanimous) PRIDE 5 April 29, 1999 2 10:00 Nagoya, Japan
Win 3–1–4 Wallid Ismail TKO (punches) PRIDE 4 October 11, 1998 2 1:26 Tokyo, Japan
Draw 2–1–4 Adriano de Souza Draw GCM: Vale Tudo August 29, 1998 3 5:00 Japan
Draw 2–1–3 Daijiro Matsui Draw PRIDE 3 June 24, 1998 4 10:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 2–1–2 Juan Mott Submission (rear naked choke) PRIDE 2 March 15, 1998 1 3:47 Yokohama, Japan
Draw 1–1–2 Renzo Gracie Draw PRIDE 1 October 11, 1997 3 10:00 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 1–1–1 Kaichi Tsuji Decision (unanimous) Lumax Cup: Tournament of J '97 Heavyweight Tournament July 27, 1997 2 3:00 Japan
Win 1–0–1 Vidal Serradilla Submission (punches) JECVTO: Japan Extreme Challenge Vale Tudo Open May 28, 1997 1 2:16 Tokyo, Japan
Draw 0–0–1 Manabu Ohara Draw KP X WK: Koppo vs. Keisyukai November 30, 1996 1 20:00 Japan

Submission grappling recordEdit

Result Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Notes
Loss   Fabrício Werdum Armbar ADCC 2003 Absolute 2003 1
Win   Mitsuhiro Ishida Points ADCC 2003 Absolute 2003 1
Loss   David Terrel Points ADCC 2003 +88 kg 2003 1
Loss   Amaury Bitteti Points ADCC 1999 –88 kg 1999 1 10:00
Win   Masutatsu Yano Decision The CONTENDERS 1 1999 3 5:00

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Pride and Glory". Sherdog.
  2. ^ Black Belt Magazine, November 1999

External linksEdit