A new legend says goodbye. The former heavyweight champion of AWA (American Wrestling Association) Masa Saito has died at the age of 76 years after complications of his health. Saito had been fighting Parkinson’s for 18 years. Weekly Pro Wrestling magazine has been in charge of confirming the news.
Despite his delicate state of health, Saito had been training hard in recent months to be a bearer of the Olympic torch at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
— ジャン斉藤 (@majan_saitou) July 13, 2018
Masa Saito’s career took place between 1965 and 1999 and encompassed a large number of companies, both North American and Japanese. In the United States, Saito competed in WWF teaming with Mr. Fuji, being two times champion in pairs. He also fought in WCW, first with The Great Muta and, finally, individually. In American lands, he also excelled in NWA and AWA. Precisely, came to proclaim heavyweight champion of the latter, in 1990.
In Japan, It will be remembered for his time in NJPW and AJPW. In this first, had an intense rivalry with Antonio Inoki, coming to dispute a fight between these two to proclaim the first IWGP heavyweight champion, in 1987, which resulted in the victory of Inoki. In 1999 he retired from professional wrestling and, a year later, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Since then, he spent a few years as supervisor, manager and advisor for the young talents of Diamond Ring, until 2014.
Upon hearing the news, wrestlers from around the world have wanted to say goodbye to Japanese legend through social networks, including Shinsuke Nakamura, Bubba Ray Dudley and Kassius Ohno.
— Shinsuke Nakamura (@ShinsukeN) July 16, 2018
Do yourself a favor and watch a few Masa Saito matches today. Man… he was awesome. Go For Broke. RIP. pic.twitter.com/pDHB5L78cN
— KASSIUS (KASH-US) (@KassiusOhno) July 16, 2018
RIP Masa Saito.
One of the first wrestling matches I ever saw was Fuji/Saito vs The Strongbows…and from that day, I knew I wanted to be a tag team wrestler.
Thank you for the inspiration.
Ganbatte Kudasai 💪 pic.twitter.com/nqbW6UI5Vy
— Bubba Ray Dudley (@bullyray5150) July 16, 2018