Bushido PR Director Shigeru Saeki fulfilled his promise
12/18/2006

Before the press conference to announce match-ups for the December 31st PRIDE SHOCKWAVE 2006, a "head shaving ceremony" was held. Public Relations Director Shigeru Saeki said before the Welterweight Grand Prix that if a Japanese fighter won, he would shave his head. Kazuo Misaki and Akihiro Gono were on hand to help Saeki fulfill his promise.


The conference area was already prepared with a plastic sheet, a chair and hair clippers. As Public Relations Director Shigeru Saeki sat down, he said, "Japanese fighters have been very active since the start of BUSHIDO. In the Lightweight Division, Gomi has been very active and showed us how strong Japanese fighters can be. However, there is still the issue of whether bigger (Middleweight and Heavyweight) fighters can compete on the world-level. The 83kg Welterweight Division is just between those divisions and if the 93kg foreign fighters drop down a weight class, it will become difficult for Japanese fighters to succeed.

Just like in the tournament finals last year with Dan Henderson and Murilo Bustamante, everyone knows that it's tough for Japanese fighters. We held a meeting before the start of this tournament to see which Japanese fighters we have at 83kg and to be honest, it was a difficult discussion. We put Misaki, Gono, Chonan and Takimoto in the tournament and three of them made it through the First Round. I thought that was a miracle. Then I thought there is no way that the Japanese fighters will win in the Second Roundbut, in the end, amazingly, Gono and Misaki were still in the tournament."

"I was amazed. Gono and Misaki were still in the fight. This is a miracle, I thought. When I met the two of them, though, they acted like it was nothing special. I was amazed by their composure. Even so, I still thought their chances of winning the entire tournament were less than 1%. Every time I would say something, Misaki would come to me and tell me how much it made him angry. Also, as Misaki said, it was a miracle that Paulo (Filho) became unable to compete and Misaki was able to advance to the Championship Round in his place. I wasn't thinking of shaving my head at that time, so I was pretty happy. When I went to the locker room and told Misaki "You can win it all", he told me that things wouldn't go like I thought they would and in the end, we were left with that emotional finish."

 

 

Despite Shigeru's attempt to delay the inevitable head shearing, the DSE staff nearby coldly demanded that the fun begin. Saeki, brought back to reality, pleaded, "I'm 37 years old this year! I can't be a 37 year old bald guy on New Year's Eve!"

"That's why I told you to do it earlier if you are going to do it! I told you I could grow it out a little by New Year's Eve and go on a vacation. I'm really angry. You should have done it earlier," Saeki again tried to put off his fate but it was far too late for that. "I'm worried if it will grow back. This is a big risk for me!"

At this point, Akihiro Gono appeared with a smile on his face, picked up the hair clippers, and walked behind Saeki. "I'm a 37 year old man and I don't have a Will made out," Saeki begged. Finally, he accepted his fate, "I may not have a Will but I also have no regrets. Let's do it!" With that, Gono brought the clippers down on Saeki's head, carving a lane down the middle. Saeki's face turned red as tears came to his eyes.

Misaki, appearing late, was shocked at Saeki's new appearance. A smile appeared on Misaki's face when he was handed a pair of scissors and began cutting Saeki's hair.

"We've got serious business to discuss after this," Saeki exclaimed. Gono, however, was unmoved. "I've been shaving my head for the last 6 years. There's no point in you trying to make a big deal of this."

Once the head-shaving ceremony was over, the newly bald Saeki looked at Misaki, commenting, "Hey, you look good. I hear that going bald is cool now. You'll be fine." Gono, who brought his own hair clippers for the occasion, gave Saeki some advice. "It gets really cold when you sleep. You should probably wear a hat."