Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Today in Wrestling History December 15th
1963 - The most important figure in the history of professional wrestling in Japan, Rikidozan, dies of complications from a stab wound suffered on December 8th at the age of 38.
Rikidozan, who debuted in 1951, helped to popularize professional wrestling in post-WWII Japan, and would train Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba, who would become two of the most influential and powerful individuals in Japanese wrestling.
While it was thought that Rikidozan, whose Japanese name was Mitsuhiro Momota, was born in Nagasaki, Japan, in truth he was Korean. Because Koreans were heavily discriminated against in Japan, his real background was kept secret, not being revealed until long after his death. Rikidozan's final match was on December 7th, teaming with Great Togo & Michiaki Yoshimura to battle The Destroyer, Buddy Austin & Illio DiPaolo to a draw.
Stories of what happened the night Rikidozan was stabbed are cloudy, with legend and fact often getting mixed up. He was stabbed in a nightclub and allegedly it was by a member of the Yakuza, the Japanese Mafia.
However, stories have circulated for years that he beat up his attacker and partied into the night before going to the hospital, which is why the wound got infected and ended up killing him. Obviously, there are many that doubt that account of the stabbing.
Rikidozan vs The Destroyer
Rikidozan, the father of puroresu, goes against The Destroyer. This match drew the second-highest TV rating in puroresu history, and perhaps the largest in terms of number of viewers.