Sad news for WWE and sports fans. Superstar and Hall of Famer Harry Fujiwara passed away on Sunday. Best known as Mr. Fuji to his legion of hardcore followers, the professional wrestler died at the age of 82. World Wrestling Entertainment made the announcement this morning.
Mr. Fuji's wrestling career spans 31-years. He started as a sports entertainer when professional wrestling was just a niche attraction and continued on as it found cultural and mainstream popularity. Over the course of four decades, he became one of the more well-known wrestlers on the circuit. WWE had this to say in a statement.
"WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Harry Fujiwara, known to WWE fans as Mr. Fuji, passed away this morning at the age of 82. His career will be remembered by different generations for different reasons but Mr. Fuji, whether as a Superstar or manager, is one of the most entertaining performers in the history of WWE."
Mr. Fuji was born Harry Fujiwara in Honolulu, Hawaii back in 1935. He began his professional wrestling career in 1965, though at the time he was using his name Mr. Fujiwara, performing in his native state. He quickly became a breakout star, and went onto perform in various regional wrestling companies all along the West Coast. It was at this time that his name was shortened to Mr. Fuji.
It was in 1972 that he joined the World Wide Wrestling Federation for Vince McMahon. This was the precursor to today's WWE. Mr. Fuji started his WWE career as a villain, and even formed a tag-team partnership with Toru Tanaka. It was during this time that Mr. Fuji became known for his signature move of throwing salt in the eyes of his opponents. He soon earned the nickname 'The Devious One'.
According to Deadline, Mr. Fuji left the WWF twice during the 70s for brief stints away from the ring. He returned in 1981 just as the company was rebranding itself as the World Wrestling Federation. Professional wresting surged in popularity during this era, and he rode the wave to the top, becoming one of the more well-known presences during this flourishing time for the organization.
In 1985, Mr. Fuji transitioned away from the ring to become a manager. He stayed with the company for another ten years, officially retiring in 1996. He has been commemorated by the WWE as one of the great managers in the history of the wrestling franchise.
Upon his retirement, Harry Fujiwara moved to Tennessee. There, he opened and operated a training dojo. The doors closed on that business back in 2001. The WWE Superstar was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007. Condolences go out to his family in this time of grief.