Tenshin Nasukawa may well be the most interesting 20-year-old in combat sports.
Last week, Nasukawa was a relatively obscure fighter, globally-speaking. Though he is a rising star in Japanese mixed martial arts, he competes in the Rizin Fighting Federation, a promotion that is only three years old and receives little press in the US and the UK.
But what a difference a few days makes. Nasukawa has been thrust into the media spotlight as Rizin made a stunning announcement — the company’s phenom will fight the unbeaten American boxer Floyd Mayweather in a bout with undetermined rules, at an undecided weight, on December 31 in Japan.
Despite his young age, Nasukawa is already an accomplished competitor with an unblemished processional record.
If his kickboxing record of 27-0 (20 wins by knockout), and his mixed martial arts record of 4-0 (two wins by knockout, and one by submission), are indicative of his promise, his impressive stoppage wins over the former IBF boxing world champion Amnat Ruenroeng and the former Muay Thai champion Wanchalong PK Senchaigym are testament to his talent-level.
His Instagram profile, which has 225,000 followers, suggests there’s more to the fighter than a strong record, though.
Here’s everything you need to know about Nasukawa, the fight game’s newest star.
This is Tenshin Nasukawa. Born in 1998, Nasukawa grew to become a young boy with a fascination for aliens, anime, and for fighting. He has a black belt in the Kyokushin style of karate and is an expert kickboxer to boot.
Nasukawa began his combat sports journey when he started practicing karate at five years old. Before he turned professional, he had an amateur kickboxing record of 99 wins against five losses and one draw. Even more impressive, he beat prominent Muay Thai champion Wanchalong PK Senchaigym while he was still a student in high school. For many, this was when a new legend was born.
Nasukawa is a big fan of cartoons, specifically those from Japan. He grew up on anime, and likes shows like “One Piece,” “Naruto,” and “Hajime no Ippo” (pictured below), a Japanese manga series focusing on a student who begins a career in boxing, beating up multiple opponents and winning many championships. Nasukawa himself competed in over 100 fights before he had even left high school, so it could be just a matter of time before he is immortalised in an anime or manga series of his own.