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By Mike Johnson on 2020-01-12 10:23:00

Reports out of Japan this morning are that Kendo Nagasaki (real name Kazuo Sakurada) passed away yesterday at the age of 71.  The story that is being told is that Nagasaki’s pacemaker stopped, leading to a cardiac issue.

Sakurada has a long run in the 1980s and early 1990s as the mysterious Nagasaki, facepaint emblazoned on his face while carrying a Samurai sword and spewing the dreaded Asian Mist.



If there was a territory in the United States, chances are Nagasaki appeared as he wrestled for the Funks in Amarillo, World Class Championship Wrestling, the AWA, WWC in Puerto Rico, Continental and Florida Championship Wrestling, always playing the evil foreign menace heel.  He had a strong run in Stampede, where he won the North American title.

Nagasaki’s last major role in the United States was playing another persona, The Dragon Master, in WCW.  Sporting a suit and none of the trademarks of the Nagasaki persona, he was a member of Gary Hart’s J-Tex Corporation with The Great Muta and Buzz Sawyer, feuding with Ric Flair, Sting and The Andersons.

In New Japan Pro Wrestling, he was most known for being one half of the Ninja Express with the late Mr. Pogo.  He also worked for FMW, Big Japan, The Super World Sports promotion and more.

In the United States, his last appearance publicly was the T-Mart The Gathering convention in Charlotte in August 2019, where he appeared in full Nagasaki regalia and spent a long time preparing to appear, as he wanted fans to have the complete experience.    In Japan, he appeared at a wrestling convention on 1/5:


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I will have more on the career of Nagasaki in the next day as I am on the road on Dallas.

On behalf of everyone associated with, I'd like to express our deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of Kendo Nagasaki.

A number of stars Nagasaki worked with have already started paying tribute:



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