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â€œThen I found out Bruce Lee could beat up all the ninja turtles and thatâ€™s when I got started in JKD.â€
Akira â€œAfro Samuraiâ€ Smith
Interview by: Richard Burmaster
Akira Smith is not your average fighter. He is far from the norm. I am not talking about his striking or his ground game that few have seen I am talking about Akira the person. This is a guy who listens to the Beatles before fights and rocks a bad ass 1970â€™s afro. Akira may be the most exciting striker in Houston right now and after his last fight where he broke his opponents arm with a kick Akira is on the short list for fighters you donâ€™t want to fight right now. I caught up with Akira as he prepared for the Legacy Muay Thai fights on Friday.
TCD.Net: What made you decide to compete in Muay Thai?
Akira: I will do any fight that allows me to go in there and improve my skills and show everyone how good I am. I thought it was an interesting fight that gave me a chance to brush up on my striking skills.
TCD.Net: What got you started in martial arts?
Akira: The ninja turtles. I liked Donatello because he was good with machines and I wasnâ€™t. Then I found out Bruce Lee could beat up all the ninja turtles and thatâ€™s when I got started in JKD. Then I did Tae Kwon Do for almost 10 years. Competed in some state competitions and the junior Olympics and then worked my way up to boxing and BJJ.
TCD.Net: What brought you to 4oz?
Akira: I was working at this store called liquid, and I was telling everyone how I liked to train. I didnâ€™t have a gym at the time and was training with my brother in the garage. The owner was into MMA and told me there was a gym opening up next door. I went in and saw Jeremy putting up this sign and we started talking about MMA and basically he told me he was going to open up a place to sell gear. Ever since then I would walk by and peek through the window and he would be like itâ€™s that kid with the afro. As soon as the gym opened it became more of a gym than an actual store for gear. It was coincidence if I hadnâ€™t been working there then I probably would not of even trained there.
TCD.Net: What has kept you at 4 oz?
Akira: Itâ€™s a sense of a family. Their bunch of animals going at it and going pretty hard to push each other to the limit. You have a lot of guys with a lot of different skill sets, so you get pretty well rounded training. Even more than that itâ€™s the sense of family and unity that everyone has.
TCD.Net: 4oz is notorious for its hard training sessions. What brings you back here each day?
Akira: The love for it. The passion. Yes, they beat me a lot, but thatâ€™s all part of the game. You have to take you loses. Itâ€™s good to make mistakes at the gym because then you know what you need to work on. Then I wonâ€™t make those same mistakes in the fight or at least Iâ€™ll make them a lot less. I thrive on the good times I have.
TCD.Net: Do you know anything about the guy you are going to fight at the muay thai card?
Akira: No, I know nothing, but I know I more than I did for past fights. Iâ€™ve heard he has good kicks, good traditional muay thai.
TCD.Net: You seem to have a different style. Where do you come up with these creative little ideas?
Akira: First of all, my background is Tae Kwon Do and every one in here is a boxer or a wrestler or mua thai. Iâ€™m pretty much the only tae kwon do guy who has made the transition to transform my style. Other than that Iâ€™m just influenced by different fighters like Sakuraba who is really unorthodox. I try to just touch on things that no other fighter has done and then also my natural style is just a little bit different. I mean I donâ€™t think anyone else is influenced by the Ninja Turtles.
TCD.Net: Who are your favorite fighters?
Akira: Sakuraba is my number one. The guys behind that would be Fedor, GSP , Anderson Silva, BJ Penn, Aokia, and Taka Ray.
TCD.Net: Any of these guys coming out now like John Jones?
Akira: Yes I â€˜ve been studying him a lot and thatâ€™s whatâ€™s been influencing my elbows a little bit because he does really smart elbows.
TCD.Net: How do you see the fight ending?
Akira: By stoppage. Iâ€™m going to go in there and heâ€™s going to have pretty good kicks. Heâ€™s going to be pretty fast, but I know for sure I have a good chin. Weâ€™re going to throw some elbows from what I understand. Iâ€™ve got hard elbows, hard knees, and just hard everything, so his chances of being able to last with me arenâ€™t too good. Iâ€™m not trying to disrespect him. Iâ€™m sure he is a good fighter, but I donâ€™t go in there to lose and I donâ€™t go in there to go to decision.
TCD.Net: Any mottos you live by?
Akira: No I donâ€™t think so.
TCD.Net: Anyone you would like to thank?
Akira: Iâ€™d like to thank Jeremy. He has very good intentions. There are a lot of guys out there who would like to take advantage of their fighters or make some money and not tell them the whole truth about whether something is best for you. To me he is not one of those guys. Heâ€™s genuine. He wants his fighters and gym to do well. He trains with us too. This gym with great trainers like Bobby are a reflection of his character. Thank everyone else who helps me prepare, and Iâ€™d also like to thank Jerret Lewis our Jiu Jitsu coach he gave me a lot of base for my Jiu jitsu.
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