Profile: Hiroki Kurosawa

I was born as Karate Fighter and will close my curtain as Karate Fighter. My life is all about Bushido Spirit.

Hiroki Kurosawa

One of the most devastating and destructive fighters, Hiroki Kurosawa was known for his relentless attacks and powerful and kicks. Known as the “Japanese Wolf“, he was one of the greatest Kyokushin fighters of his generation, alongside Kenji Midori and Kenji Yamaki.

Hiroki Kurosawa was born on 6 September 1962, in the Shinagawa district of Tokyo, Japan. Growing up he played the violin and also practised Kendo.

Kurosawa first became interested in Karate, after seeing the film “Strongest Karate” while at school. He joined a local dojo run by Tatsuo Nakamura.

Sometime later call Kurosawa joined the dojo of Mashi Yamada, a student of Mas Oyama. A good student, he progressed quickly. He soon began to find success at local tournaments held in Tokyo.

In 1984 Kurosawa entered the 16th All Japan Tournament. It was the first time he had entered the tournament. He became the first man to win the title at his first attempt. The following year he made it to the final again. However, he lost to Shokei Matsui, another Kyokushin legend. It was around this time that he was noticed by Mas Oyama, who took him under his wing.

1987 saw Kurosawa take part in the 4th All Japan Weight Tournament. He reached the final of the Heavyweight class, losing to Yashuri Shichinohe. That same year he took part in his first World Championships. In the tournament he faced Dutchman, Peter Smit, in a legendary match that became known as an example of “True Kyokushinkai Fighting Spirit“. The match was refereed by Steve Arneil, and was extended by three extra rounds to find a winner. Injuries he sustained in the match meant that he could not face Englishman, Michael Thompson, in the next round.

A phenomenal fighter, Kurosawa competed at a time when two other legendary fighters, Kenji Midori and Kenji Yamaki, also completed. Between 1991 in 1995 Kurosawa competed in several All Japan Weight and World Tournaments against both men.

At the 5th World Tournament Kurosawa finished third. He lost to Kenji Midori, the eventual champion. Four years later he finished sixth at the 6th World Tournament. He lost of Kenji Yamaki, the eventual champion.

In 1994 Kyokushin Karate founder, Mas Oyama, died from lung cancer. He had not named a clear successor to lead his organisation, the International Karate Organisation (IKO). Political infighting soon led to a split in the organisation. Kurosawa remained with the IKO until 1998, before joining Kazuyoshi Ishii’s Seidokaikan Karate organisation.

Always eager to prove the validity of his Karate, Kurosawa took part in the 1st Pride Fighting Championships gala on 11 October 1997. Pride was Japan’s Premier mixed martial arts organisation. Kurosawa’s toughness as a Karate fighter had caught the attention of Kakutougi Revolutionary Spirits (KRS) Consortium, the promoters of Pride. They invited him to compete in Pride to help promote the event in Japan.

Kurosawa faced Dutchman Igor Meindert in his Pride bout. During the fight he sustained knee damage, rupturing his cruciate ligaments. This injury resulted in him having several knee operations over subsequent years.

On 4 July 1999 Kurosawa took part in Pride 6. He faced Nobuaki Kakuda. Kakuda had practised Kyokushin and Seidokaikan Karate and was also a kickboxer. Kurosawa defeated Kakuda in their match.

25 January 2000 saw Kurosawa make his kickboxing debut in the K-1 Kickboxing promotion. K-1 was the brain child of Kazuyoshi Ishii and was designed to promote the best stand-up martial artists. In his debut, Kurosawa faced American Maecus Ruiz, who he knocked out in just 56 seconds.

In his next K-1 bout, Kurosawa was knocked out by Japanese compatriot, Shinku Tsunoda. He however won his third K-1 bout.

By 2003 Kurosawa knee was proving to be problematic for him. In his last ever K-1 fight he faced Ivan Salaverry of Canada , on 29 July 2003, in Saitama, Japan. The match ended in a draw.

For the next couple of years Kurosawa ran his dojo in Tokyo. However, in 2016 he had to have another knee operation. The operation was a failure, and while recovering he developed high blood pressure and a weakened heart, from which you never fully recovered.

On 25 March 2017 Hiroki Kurosawa died from acute heart failure. He was only 54 years old. At his family’s request he was cremated in a small private summer ceremony.

The “Kyokushin Fighting Machine” Hiroki Kurosawa epitomised the true fighting spirit of Kyokushin Karate. Below are some of the memorable fights featuring this legendary Kyokushin karateka:

Author: Patrick Donkor

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