Taiju Shiratori is a Japanese professional muay thai kickboxer and currently under contract with Japanese kickboxing organisation RISE. Taiju has been a professional competitor since 2011 and began his career as a muay thai fighter, notably winning the World Professional Muaythai Federation title of Japan in 2013. He tried out boxing for some time but, Shiratori believed he would have a bigger shot at success in kickboxing and so decided to transition after 2.5 years in the sport. The highlight of his career so far is that he won the 2019 RISE Lightweight championship and RISE World Series, as well as the 2021 Rizin KICK tournament. Between July and November 2021, Shiratori was ranked as the fourth-best bantamweight in the world by Combat Press. Additionally, Combat Press ranks him as the fifth-best super bantamweight kickboxer in the world.
However, none of these stats really matter to Taiju. He has only one target in mind and that target comes in the name of a fighter called Petchpanomrung Kiatmookao. Like so many other fighters, Taiju wants to push for the opportunity to get inside the ring with the Thai fighter who has wiped out pretty much all athletes he has come across so far. Including Kento Haraguchi, the Japanese who fights in the same weight category as Taiju. Taiju is also not all ambiguous about his desire to even the score between him and Haraguchi as he lost his first bout against him. It's clear he is keen to get out of his opponent's shadow.
Taiju is clearly a man looking to build his profile in the kickboxing world. He wants to challenge the number 1 fighter in his weight category, he wants to go abroad to take part in competitions and training camps and is also a part time model. Going abroad may be off the cards at the moment as his boss, Takashi Ito (owner of RISE) recognises the commercial value of his fighter and wants him to hang about in Japan a little longer. Will he be able to convince him that it will be good for the sport if he does go abroad? It would seem like an obvious thing to do.
When we speak with Taiju his manager is on the line with us as well. We ask whether it's his kickboxing manager but this is not correct. It’s the manager who is trying to find modelling gigs for his client. He is also very keen to know whether a Western female audience finds a Taiju nice to look at. Warrior Code replies that we are unable to speak on behalf of these women but we’re sure that they’d like to see Taiju perform his kickboxing skills over here, perhaps the modelling can come later.
So when will Taiju get his real shot at success? That depends on how the year plays out for him.