Like martial arts, streetwear fashion is deeply rooted in Japanese culture.
However, very few balance both like #3-ranked featherweight contender Koyomi “Moushigo” Matsushima.
The Japanese star – who fights #5-ranked Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon at ONE: BIG BANG on Friday, 4 December – is more than just a world-class martial artist. He is also an avid sneaker enthusiast, who owns nearly a hundred pairs of kicks.
“I started liking them as a kid,” the 28-year-old confesses.
“I was doing wrestling. In wrestling, we wear wrestling shoes, and if we only have one pair, it will get stinky fast. So, I had to buy some pairs to rotate. This is the reason why I started collecting shoes.”
Shoes have always been Matsushima’s preferred way of making a fashion statement, whether it was at school, a favorite hangout spot, or the martial arts dojo.
The Yokohama native wanted his kicks to be the first thing everyone noticed from the very first moment he walked into a room.
“I first came to like sneakers as a part of fashion. I try to pick sneakers every day that go well with the color of the clothes I am wearing,” Matsushima admits.
“As I came to like it, I learned more about the background and history of sneakers, and I became even more fond of them.”
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The Japanese featherweight contender isn’t too fussy when it comes to brands.
However, some of his dearest pairs are from Nike. Those include the Air Jordan, which marked a revolutionary sneaker collaboration with NBA legend Michael Jordan, the Cortez, which are the company’s first track shoes, the Dunk SB, which are skateboarding kicks, and the Air Max 1s, which are the first shoes to employ the company’s renowned Max Air technology.
“[Collecting sneakers] is fun. Also, each pair has distinctive designs that match the fashion of the time when they were released,” he adds.
“The first shoes I ever wore in my life were Jordans. It was back in 1993 when I was born. Also, the first shoes I bought were Cortez. I think I purchased them when I was in high school. Ever since then, I started collecting little by little.”
That collection grew to nearly a hundred pairs of shoes.
Clearly, Matsushima has plenty of options to keep his two feet warm, but his hobby is not something his mother and father condone.
To curb the issue, he sells the pairs he doesn’t use. However, similar to most sneakerheads, selling is just an opportunity for “Moushigo” to add up to his rare collection.
“I cut out by selling the pairs that I don’t wear anymore. I tend to wear my most favorite pairs, so there are some pairs I only wear once a year,” he explains.
“My parents tell me that there are too many shoes and it occupies a lot of space, but I make excuses. I say this is my only hobby.”
With about 15 years of experience in the sneaker game, the Japanese athlete possesses a couple of highly sought-after designs in his collection.
Among them are the Dunk SB Low Heineken (valued at US$3,100), the Dunk SB Low Pushead (valued at US$1,000), the Dunk High Pro SB Melvins (valued at US$800), the Dunk SB Low Nasty Boys (valued at US$500), and the Nike Air Max 1 Master (valued at US$700).
But whenever he travels to compete on the global stage, he normally keeps those valuable assets locked away and brings the Air Jordan 11 (AJ11) Concord with him on the road.
To most sneakerheads, the Air Jordan 11 isn’t such an attractive pair. However, it was the iconic shoe that Jordan wore during the entire 1995-1996 regular season, a couple of months after the legend returned during the remainder of the 1994-1995 season.
Just like how the five-time NBA MVP led his team to the playoffs in the Chicago Bulls’ championship-winning season in those sneakers, Matsushima believes the AJ11 is his amulet.
“When I leave Japan for bouts, I always make sure to wear the Jordan 11 low concord. I like them the most because of the design,” he says.
“Also, Michael Jordan wore this when he made a comeback from his temporary retirement, so I think this is a good background [story] to make this pair a lucky charm.”
This time, however, Matsushima made a bold decision.
Instead of bringing his ‘good luck’ pair of shoes to Singapore, he kept them at home and brought some different kicks to “The Lion City.”
“I am wearing the Nike-Supreme collaboration pair,” he previously confessed. “It’s a bit different from what I normally wear. It’s not too sporty – just simple. I picked them with my instinct.”
When Matsushima walks to the Circle on Friday night, fans may be able to catch a glimpse of the Japanese mixed martial artist’s sneakers before he attempts to ruin Tonon’s perfect record and finish the year off with a bang.