Interview with Shingo Kashiwagi
Recently, I got the chance to sit down with resident King Of The Cage matchmaker Shingo Kashiwagi and find out what he’s all about.
ML: Shingo, thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule for me. How did you get into MMA?
SK: I was a big fan when I was in high school. Actually I was a big fan of pro wrestling, like WWF kind of stuff. I think I was in high school and I saw Takada fight Rickson Gracie on tv, and Takada was on of my favorite pro wrestlers in Japan and he was doing MMA. So I was thinking that Takada was just going to kick ass or something, but he just got raped by Rickson. That’s when I started getting interested in MMA. I started looking at a bunch of different of organizations, and there were so many organizations that I didn’t know like Shooto, Pancrase, and Pride. I think I got hooked at Pride 9 back in 2000, but ever since, I’ve just been hooked to the sport and the techniques. I’ve been a fan for a long time now, and I just kind of ended up in this business. It’s just kind of weird.
ML: You have background in martial arts as well, right?
SK: Yeah, just a first degree black belt in Judo.
ML: Oh, only a first degree. That’s no big deal.
SK: I was in high school when I got that black belt. Pretty much, when you think black belt in Judo out here in the US, it’s a big deal. But when you’re in Japan, everyone does it, so to me, it just seems like it’s no big deal.
ML: So does that mean you’re ready to step into the cage with any of the King Of the Cage guys right?
SK: Umm, I don’t know about that. Maybe with the girls at 125 or something, lol. I’m dying to get in there, but with my hectic work schedule, I don’t have the time to dedicate to train for a fight like that. But I’d really love to give it a shot someday.
ML: You are the King Of The Cage matchmaker. Describe for the people that don’t know, what’s involved in matchmaking. How does a fight come together?
SK: First off, I just start with a blank sheet of paper, and start calling the different gyms that we have good relationships with and we look at random fighters that are getting ready to step into the cage. Usually Terry Trebilcock handles the main events, and I’ll take care of the under card and after card. But we’ll sit down and discuss the different fighters and who to put together to make it competitive. The thing is, you have to do a lot of background research on each fighter, to make sure they’re going to be competitive. I mean, even though they’re the same weight class, you can have a guy that’s 10 and 0 and a guy that’s just a beginner, but that’s not going to be competitive, and we don’t want that.
My job is to make sure that they’re kind of equal style wise, experience wise, and what school they come from. That’s where I come in and try to make the fights more and more competitive. So, basically for one fight I’ll take six fighters and do my background researches and see who would be the most competitive.
ML: So when you’re putting together a show that has 17 fights on the card, you could be looking at 100 or so fighters to start off with.
SK: Yes, at the beginning. But then I’ll start eliminating fighters and maybe add some fighters. The thing is, the card never turns out like it should. There is always someone getting hurt or maybe someone doesn’t make weight, so you always need backup guys. And I really appreciate those guys that are willing to take a fight at the last minute.
ML: Is that the hardest thing to deal with, the guys that hurt themselves while they’re training at the last minute?
SK: It is a headache, especially when it happens really close to the fight. Things like that shouldn’t happen, I don’t know why, but sometimes, shit happens.
ML: What else do you do for King Of The Cage?
SK: I also handle the ticket distribution, and right now I’m working on a Japanese website. I know a guy in Japan that makes a living on making websites, and he’s doing a pretty good job so far. I’m working on doing a lot of public relations with the Japanese media right now and in fact, I’ll be doing an interview with Kakutsu, the number 2 MMA magazine in Japan, sometime this weekend.
ML: You are currently working on 2 shows, September 15 at the Avi in Laughlin, NV and October 7th at the Soboba Casino in San Jacinto, CA. can you tell me anything about those cards?
SK: Manny Rodriguez is defending his Heavyweight title at the Avi show against Ben Beebe. And on the same card, the #2 Heavyweight contender, Kyle Kingsbury will be fighting as well. We also have Gabe Rivas coming back and he’ll be fighting Tim Kerry. This fight is kind of a grudge match, because they fought in Mexico once, and Tim wants to redeem his loss to Gabe. The Avi is a great venue and resort and we’re really exited to be going back there!
As far as the October card at Soboba goes, we will have William Sriyrapai fighting, as well as Thomas Kenney and an up and coming guy named Dave Cryer. But that’s all I’m going to tell you for now.
ML: Thanks for taking the time for the interview, Shingo. I appreciate it.
SK: Thanks, Mike!
You will be able to see Shingo at the Avi Resort and Casino on September 15th in Laughlin, NV, and at the Soboba Casino on October 7th. He’ll be the guy running around like he’s losing his mind. Don’t forget to check back often, as my next interview will be with one of the new King Of The Cage up and comers, Melvin “Man-O-War” Costa. I will also have a couple of huge announcements concerning the date of September 29th, and the Soboba show on October 7th. So if you’re in the Southern California area on those dates, check back on Friday, August 24th for the announcement!