NJPW superstar and current IWGP World Heavyweight champion Kota Ibushi recently spoke to Sports Illustrated to discuss a number of different topics, including his love for the sport of pro-wrestling, his short-lived kickboxing career, and how he felt carrying the company’s top belts at this year’s WrestleKingdom.
On his love for the sport of pro-wrestling:
I was so happy with the moment Hashimoto regained the title. Takada was working for another company at the time, but he’d taken the IWGP heavyweight championship. When Hashimoto won, I cried tears of joy. That’s how seriously I watched wrestling.
Recalls how he felt when he got to carry the two top belts at this year’s WrestleKingdom:
When I held those belts for the first time at Wrestle Kingdom, I thought about all of that experience that got me to this point, both the good and the bad. Most of all, I thought about my dad. He was my biggest fan, before he passed away in 2013.
On his short-lived kickboxing career:
At first, I only started kickboxing to help me become a pro wrestler. I kept with it to the point I was set to make my debut in 2006 at K-1 World Max, but my opponent pulled out and the match was called off. So that was the end of my kickboxing career.