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Masakatsu Funaki (船木 誠勝?) is a Japanese mixed martial artist and professional wrestler, who has previously wrestled in All Japan Pro Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling, PWFG, UWF and Wrestle-1. He is also the co-founder of Pancrase, one of the first mixed martial arts organizations and non-rehearsed shoot wrestling promotions (following five years after the inception of Shooto but predating America's Ultimate Fighting Championship). Funaki was also Pancrase's biggest star; Josh Barnett described him as the "symbol of Japan", Frank Shamrock labeled Funaki "the golden boy" of Pancrase, and Guy Mezger called Funaki "hands down the smartest and most skilled fighter in Pancrase next to Ken Shamrock".
Instead of entering high school, he applied to New Japan Pro Wrestling's dojo. He was in the same class as Keiichi Yamada (better known as Jushin Thunder Liger), Shinya Hashimoto, Minoru Suzuki, Masahiro Chono, and Chris Benoit. The New Japan Dojo had a reputation for being particularly harsh on its trainees, both mentally and physically, with the intent of only graduating the very best of each class. However, Funaki stunned the New Japan trainers with his athleticism, timing and natural talent for submission grappling. Along with the former Olympic alternate Minoru Suzuki, Funaki formed a strong bond with the dojo's head grappling instructor, Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Funaki debuted as a Jr. Heavyweight at the age of 15; it was a record for the youngest debut in NJPW.
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