A Master Among Men: RIP Mr. Fuji
By Jonathan Balofsky On 1 Sep, 2016 At 11:15 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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This past weekend, wrestling fans lost a true legend. Harry Fujiwara, known to fans as Mr. Fuji passed away at the age of 82. Mr. Fuji was a beloved figure with a long history in wrestling, including over 30 years with the WWE. While in WWE he won 5 tag team championships, 3 with Toru Tanaka and twice with Mr. Saito. He teamed with Tanaka all over the world and won a variety of championships, both in tag teams and in singles competition. Among the various titles he won, he won the NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship with the also legendary Genichiro Tenryu,  the NWA Canadian Heavyweight Championship from Maple Leaf Wrestling, The WWC North American heavyweight championship, and the WCW (Australia incarnation) tag team championship with Tiger Jeet Singh. Known for pulling many classic foreign heel tactics to win, such as throwing objects at his opponents behind the referees back, he brought this with him when he transitioned to the latter part of his career.

Audiences from the WWF in the 80’s and 90’s will remember Mr. Fuji as the evil manager of various heels, such as Demolition, Don Muraco and most famously Yokozuna, whom he managed to a lengthy WWE championship reign. When he was with Muraco, the two would appear in various skits doing parodies of mainstream shows. These included Fuji Vice and Fuji General, which were filled with intentionally bad acting and hold a special place in the hearts of many. Fuji would aid his charges through various underhanded means, such as throwing salt in the eyes, or attacking opponents with his cane when the referee wasn’t looking. He managed to get many teams over, such as the aforementioned Demolition and if it were not for him, Yokozuna’s career would have been much different, and quite possibly much shorter.

Outside the ring, he would party with the wrestlers and pull ribs (pranks) with the best of them. In fact, Fujiwara was known to be a legendary ribber who came up with some of the most elaborate ribs, ranging from slipping laxatives into peoples’ coffee, to framing wrestlers for having affairs. One notable prank was finding people to braid Yokozuna’s hair, only for the person to find out that Yokozuna’s hair was extremely foul smelling and would leave their hands reeking for days.

Fujiwara was known by many in the business as Uncle Harry, and was a real life mentor to so many in the industry. He would encourage wrestlers in their careers, but also had kind words to share to the referees and ring crew. He loved to laugh and brought excitement to so many. He inspired so many people, both as a manager and as a wrestler using his natural charisma. Though billed from Japan, he was actually from Hawaii and felt pride in the state. His partnership with Don Muraco, who was of Native Hawaiian descent led to a real life friendship and when the widow of Peter Maivia ( a local wrestling legend in Hawaii and the Rock’s grandfather) appeared on TV being greeted by then champion Bob Backlund in 1982, he could visibly be seen being emotionally overwhelmed.

Fujiwara gave everything he could to the business and wrestling has lost a true master with his death. RIP Mr. Fuji.

 

 

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