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Wrestling / Koji Kitao

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Koji Kitao (b. 1963-2019) was a Japanese sumo wrestler and Professional Wrestler, as well as occasional Mixed Martial Arts fighter. He started in the sport of sumo and performed well enough to be considered a top rookie, eventually rising to the status of yokozuna or great sumo champion at only 23, under the name of Futahaguro. However, the decision was badly seen by some pundits, and it did backfire when Kitao got involved in a scandal with his master and his wife, in which Kitao supposedly attacked them. He was expelled from the rank and left sumo altogether, deciding to move into professional wrestling after some TV activity. Kitao trained in New Japan Pro-Wrestling and debuted as a dubious but nonetheless hot prospect, receiving an unusual push. Then again, Kitao's short-temper got him against famous backstage bully Riki Choshu and he was fired from the company. Koji then fell into the promotion of his friend Genichiro Tenryu, Super World of Sports, only to crash literally the entire company by causing a scandal with John Tenta in which Kitao shouted wrestling was fake. This finally had Kitao out of the radar for a time, until he returned to the public life repenting for his past wrong decisions and having became a martial artist. Kitao had a dip in shoot-style in UWF International and reunited with Tenryu in his next company, Wrestle Association R. He also founded a dojo and competed in some MMA matches, and helped to draw for WAR until his retirement in 1998. Five years later, Kitao featured a shocking return to sumo when a fellow sumo investigated his case and concluded that Koji's master had exaggerated his misdeeds to get him fired for money affairs. Kitao then became a sumo trainer and has stuck into the role for the rest of his life. On March 29, 2019, his wife announced that Kitao had died on February 10 from chronic renal failure at the age of 55.

Oh, and he played the sumo fighter in Jean-Claude Van Damme's The Quest.

As usual, you can find the basics at The Other Wiki.


  • Acrofatic: In his best times, Kitao could fire decent jumping spin kicks despite being 300 pound.
  • Anti-Hero: Was a part of NJPW home army against foreign heels like Big Van Vader and Bam Bam Bigelow, but he was often disdainful, mocking and unsympathetic overall.
  • Arch-Enemy: John Tenta.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: As the head of the Buko/Kitao Dojo, he was its most powerful (and largest) member.
  • Badass Teacher: Trained Masaaki Mochizuki, TARU and other wrestlers. He later worked as a sumo trainer.
  • Bash Brothers: With Genichiro Tenryu.
  • Belly Flop Crushing: In Kitao's first MMA fight, he controlled Pedro Otavio by smothering him on the half guard with his 300 pounds. It actually worked for a time, but The Pedro ended up breaking free and took his back for a beatdown.
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  • Big Fun: After Shinobu Kandori avenged her defeat against Svetlana Goundarenko, Kitao and his trainees got into the cage and he picked her up over his shoulder to parade her around, both laughing for the victory.
  • The Big Guy: Although the fan reaction to his supposed Face alignation could be ambivalent, he often played this role to Tenryu in honor to his Worthy Opponent status.
  • Boring, but Practical: After his return to wrestling, he usually resorted to multiple low kicks to destroy his opponent's legs. It was not the flashiest offensive, but it got his opponent chopped down more times than not.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Yellow and red in NJPW, gi white afterwards.
  • Cool Shades: Wore them as part of his entrance attire in NJPW.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: In his second wrestling tenure, he wore footguards as part of his gi.
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  • Early-Bird Cameo: Before his pro wrestling debut, he was introduced at a Ryuma Go Pioneer Senshi show.
  • Everything Is Better With Spinning: One of his rarest signature moves, the Thunderstorm, saw him holding his opponent in a cloverleaf and spinning him around as in a giant swing.
  • Fat Bastard: Quite his reputation, in-universe and out.
  • Finishing Move: His first finisher was a running jumping leg drop a la Hulk Hogan. After returning from his hiatus, he replaced it with the Kitao Driller (a reverse piledriver) and stock martial arts moves like armbars and kicks.
  • The Giant: Mean and heavy.
  • Gradual Grinder: A relatively good kicker for his build, Kitao used low kicks and knees as part of a strategy to soften his opponents up before finishing them.
  • Graceful Loser: After he got shot on and K.O.ed by Nobuhiko Takada, Kitao bowed to the crowd and shook hands with Takada despite the betrayal, surprising everybody who expected him to (now rightfully) snap and start up a brawl.
  • Hero Killer: Defeated The Dreaded Bam Bam Bigelow with ease in his debut match for NJPW, something that had been considered impossible at the time. He also beat Kazuo Yamazaki, UWF-i's second star, in his first match in the promotion.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Genichiro Tenryu, who was also a disgraced sumo (though not so spectacularly so). He was the only promotor who gave Kitao an opportunity to work, even after watching him screw every promotion he was, and pretty much played an instrumental role in Kitao's redemption.
  • I Know Sumo: A grand champion. He also trained in Judo in his youth before switching to sumo wrestling, and gained a 3rd Dan black belt in Kokusai Kukendo Karate under Daimonji Saburō before returning to wrestling.
  • Jerkass: So very much. He even exploited his reputation to build himself as the Heel to Nobuhiko Takada's Face by saying that Kazuo Yamazaki was unremarkable as an opponent after Yamazaki challenged him to a rematch.
  • Heel–Face Turn: He seemed to go though one in real life after being fired from Super World Sports and training in karate. The incident with Yamazaki was even revealed to have been planned to build up interest for his match against Takada.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: A brutal one in his debut in Ultimate Fighting Championship, where he rushed to take down Mark Hall without realizing the latter had broken with nose with a punch in the process. Kitao only noticed when the referee pointed out the gallons of blood that covered Kitao's face and chest.
  • Masked Luchador: His first wrestling match was under a mask, as "Monster Machine", in the American AWA.
  • Odd Friendship: With joshi wrestler Shinobu Kandori. They became friends when he trained and cornered her in her rematch against female judo champion Svetlana Goundarenko. (Not so odd when you learn that Kandori also shot on a wrestler and got blacklisted from pro wrestling for a time.)
  • Power Stable: Buko Dojo, in WAR.
  • Red Baron: "Thunderstorm", "Dangerous Shin Jinrui" ("The Dangerous New Humanity", in his NJPW time).
  • Sadist Teacher: It's known that Koji used to beat up his trainees in sumo. To be fair to him, this is far from being rare in sumo, as the art's training culture is extremely (and controversially) harsh.
  • Shout-Out:
    • His leg drop, no selling and mannerisms in NJPW were references to Hulk Hogan.
    • His entrance jacket, on the other hand, was one to Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star.
  • Start My Own: Promoted his own Buko Dojo events, which became a full blown promotion for a time.
  • Worked Shoot: He competed in shoot-style, and also wrestled worked shoots in WAR and the indies, even defeating Genichiro Tenryu in one of them.
  • Worthy Opponent: Tenryu and him had this relationship in WAR.

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