Remembering Mr Fuji: 1934 – 2016
The legend of Mr Fuji was born Harry Fujiwara in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1934 he had a long and established wrestling career for many years as not only a wrestler but acclaimed manager. Throughout his career, he was was billed from Osaka, Japan despite being a native of Hawaii. After receiving his training from the late Nick Bockwinkel, he made his in-ring debut in December 1965 under the name of Mr Fujiwara. He quickly captured his first championship, in January 1966 when along with King Curtis Iaukea they captured the NWA Hawaii Tag Team Championship. This would be the first of many championships throughout his illustrious career…
- 1-time NWA British Commonwealth Heavyweight Champion
- 1-time NWA Canadian Heavyweight Champion
- 1-time NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Champion
- 1-time WWC North American Heavyweight Champion
- 1-time NWA United States Champion
- 1-time AWA Southern Tag Team Champion
- 1-time IWA World Tag Team Champion
- 1-time NWA Georgia Tag Team Champion
- 2-time NWA Hawaii Tag Team Champion
- 1-time NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champion
- 4-time NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Champion
- 1-time NWA Southeastern Tag Team Champion
- 1-time WWC North American Tag Team Champion
- 5-time WWE Tag Team Champion
Fuji made his World Wide Wrestling Federation debut in 1972 teaming with Toru Tanaka, managed by the legendary Grand Wizard. It was throughout this time where he developed the devious streak which would stick with him until his retirement. Along with Tanaka, they quickly captured their first tag team championship when they defeated Sonny King and Chief Jay Strongbow in June 1972. They would go onto hold the championship for 11-months, the third-longest in history before losing the championship to Tony Garea and Haystacks Calhoun in May 1973. Fuji remained an active in-ring competitor until 1984, when he retired and became a manager.
Throughout his managerial career, he would manage various tag teams to a variety of success as well as singles competitors. His clients throughout this time included George “The Animal” Steele, Don Muraco, Demolition, Powers of Pain and The Orient Express to name but a few. But it was his appearance and demeanor which defined him throughout this time. Dressed in a black tuxedo and bowler top hat, he carried a cane which would frequently be used to aid his clients and the technical use of salt to the eyes. But throughout this time, he is also fondly remembered for the skit “Fuji Vice” which provided countless hilarious moments.
His greatest success as a manager came in the fall of 1992, when he introduced the colossal Yokozuna to the WWE. Under the leadership of Mr Fuji, Yokozuna would go on to not only win the 1993 Royal Rumble match but capture the WWE Championship at WrestleMania IX. It was at this event where his devious tactics would come in most handy. Through a well-aimed throw of the salt to the eyes, he ultimately helped Yokozuna capture the WWE Championship from fan favorite Bret Hart.
He would go on to retire from the WWE, and the wrestling industry in 1996. After his retirement, he operated a training dojo from Jefferson City, Tennessee whilst infamously suing the creators of video game “WCW vs NWO World Tour” for the impersonation of his gimmick, under the name of “Master Fuji”. He was last seen on WWE programming in 2007, when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his former client Don Muraco.
A prominent figure throughout the Wrestling Boom of the 1980s and still identifiable into The New Generation of the 1990s, Mr Fuji will be remembered by millions as one of the most devious and cunning, but fondly remembered characters of all time. Harry Fujiwara fell asleep for the final time on August 28 2016, aged 82.
Gone, but certainly not forgotten. Sleep easy Mr Fuji.
Image Credit: WWE.com