Fightful is sad to report that former wrestler, MMA fighter, and sumo Koji Kitao has passed away. He was 55.
The news was first reported by Nikkan Sports.
Kitao is perhaps best known in wrestling circles for his April 1, 1991 bout against John Tenta in Super World of Sports, which ended up turning into a shoot fight. After the match, Kitao told the audience that wrestling is fake and was subsequently fired by SWS. Kitao had previously worked for NJPW, wrestling the likes of Vader, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Scott Hall. He was fired from NJPW for using an ethnic slur towards Riki Choshu. He competed at WrestleMania 7, teaming with Tenryu to defeat Demolition. He spent the last half of his career competing in WAR.
Along with wrestling, Kitao competed in MMA as well. He fought at UFC 9, losing to Mark Hall in 40 seconds by TKO. He also fought at PRIDE 1, defeating former WWE superstar Nathan Jones by submission.
Fightful would like to extend our condolences to the family and friends of Kitao