MMA Hall of Fame: Akira Maeda
From shoot style wrestling to competitive mixed martial arts, Akira Maeda is one great fighter that paved the way for MMA in Japan.
Also known as Kwik-kik-Lee, Akira Maeda was born on January 24, 1959. He helped develop the shoot style of professional wrestling during the late 1980s.
He formed the Fighting Network RINGS, dubbed as RINGS, in 1991. After the collapse of UWF International in 1997, RINGS no longer bill itself as wrestling. Akira Maeda retired from active competition in 1999, following his loss against three-time Olympic gold medalist — Alexander Karelin.
After his retirement, Akira Maeda switches RINGS shoot-style to competitive mixed martial arts. The revamped RINGS held two King of Kings tournaments, which introduced MMA stars like Fedor Emelianenko, Randy Couture, Dan Henderson, Jeremy Horn and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in Japan. But due to the growing popularity of PRIDE Fighting Championship in 2002, RINGS became a defunct promotion.
As of the moment, Akira Maeda’s latest project is called “The Outsider”. It is an amateur MMA group that used HERO’s rules.
European Union Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
Fighting Network RINGS
RINGS Battle Dimensions Tournament (1993–1996)
New Japan Pro Wrestling
IWGP Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Osamu Kido (1) and Nobuhiko Takada (1)
Greatest Wrestlers (Class of 2009)
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)