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ALL TIME GREAT LITTLE TOKYO PASSES AWAY

By Mike Johnson on 2011-09-06 22:28:58
Legendary midget wrestler Little Tokyo (real name Shigeri Akabane) passed away earlier today at the age of 70. It is believed Akabane suffered a heart attack, although he had been battling tongue cancer for much of the last year.

Akebane was a regular member of the troupe of midgets who worked a number of territories in the United States in the 1970s and early to mid 1980s, where midget matches were used semi-regularly as comedy undercard attractions. Tokyo pretty much always worked heel, teaming with the likes of Lord Littlebrook. By all accounts from those I spoke to tonight, he was well liked and respected and was considered vastly underrated as an in-ring worker.

Tokyo held the NWA World Midgets championship several times in the early 1970s with the belt being recognized in a number of strong territories, including Georgia and Texas. Tokyo captured the belt in 1971 and would hold it several times through 1983.

When WWF made their national expansion in the 1980s, Tokyo made a number of memorable appearances, including Wrestlemania III where he teamed with King Kong Bundy and Littlebrook in a mixed tag against Hillbilly Jim, Little Beaver and The Haiti Kid. When Bundy slammed Beaver, his team was DQ'd, leading to all of the midgets and Jim joining forces against the behemoth.

Tokyo was also involved in a silly but memorable skit on Tuesday Night Titans where he came out dressed identical to manager Mr. Fuji, who then tried to claim that he was only going to give Tokyo a "little money" because Tokyo was "little" and that's all he needed.

Tokyo's last major national TV appearance was for Herb Abrams's Universal Wrestling Federation's final event. Broadcast via Sportschannel America as a live special titled "The Blackjack Brawl" before a sparse crowd in Las Vegas, Tokyo was among the talents to win UWF titles that would never be defended, defeating The Karate Kid for the promotion's Midget championship.

Tokyo, who was living in St Joseph, Missouri at the time of his passing, made one final public appearance that I am aware of earlier this summer for the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, NY.

PWInsider.com would like to express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Little Tokyo.

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