Hiro Matsuda
Birth nameYasuhiro Kojima
Born(1937-07-22)July 22, 1937
Yokohama, Kanagawa, Empire of Japan
DiedNovember 27, 1999(1999-11-27) (aged 62)
Tampa, Florida, U.S.
Cause of deathColon cancer
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Ernesto Kojima
Hiro Matsuda
Billed height6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Billed weight231 lb (105 kg)
Trained byDiablo Velasco[1]
Karl Gotch

Yasuhiro Kojima (小島 泰弘, Kojima Yasuhiro) (July 22, 1937 – November 27, 1999), best known by his ring name Hiro Matsuda (ヒロ・マツダ, Hiro Matsuda), was a Japanese professional wrestler and trainer.

Professional wrestling career

Kojima played an active role as an ace pitcher at baseball in Nittai Ebara High School Baseball Club in Japan, and after graduating, he joined Japan Pro Wrestling in 1957, but left in 1960.[2] Matsuda then went to Peru, where he worked as Ernesto Kojima. Later, after moving to Mexico through the United States, the ring name was changed to Kojima Saito, Great Matsuda, and Hiro Matsuda.[2] The name “Matsuda” was a ring name given to two Japanese wrestlers active in the mainland of America, “Sorakichi Matsuda” in the 1880s and Manjiro "Matty" Matsuda in the 1920s. He initially debuted under his real name at Rikidōzan's Japanese Wrestling Association.

When wrestling in Mexico, he had matches against the legendary luchador El Santo, and he later studied with Karl Gotch in the United States in order to learn catch-as-catch-can and submission wrestling. During this period he learned one of his finishing maneuvers, the German suplex hold. Kojima adopted his Hiro Matsuda identity while competing in the southern United States, inspired by earlier wrestlers Sorakichi Matsuda and Matty Matsuda. Over this period he would also wrestle occasionally in Japan, where he formed a tag team with Antonio Inoki.

Matsuda was the first Japanese wrestler to win a National Wrestling Alliance world singles title when he won its Junior Heavyweight Championship on July 11, 1964, in Tampa, Florida by defeating Danny Hodge, which he held until dropping it on November 13 to Angelo Savoldi. On December 10, Matsuda's match against NWA World Heavyweight Champion Lou Thesz in Jacksonville, Florida, ended without a winner as a result of a time limit draw.[3] He would win a second title in 1975 by defeating Ken Mantell, also later losing the belt to Hodge, whom he had a series of matches with.[2][4] In the late 60s, Matsuda worked as part of a tag team with The Missouri Mauler, facing heels Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson.[4]

Matsuda settled in Florida in 1962 and trained neophytes at the old Sportatorium in Tampa, home of the Championship Wrestling from Florida television program.[4] Matsuda was famous for being very stiff with his trainees to toughen them up. His most famous student was Hulk Hogan, breaking his leg to show the seriousness of professional wrestling.[5] Matsuda wouldn't let wrestlers train with him unless they did 1,000 pushups and 1,000 squats.[6] Matsuda could also do hundreds of push-ups and squats in his 60s.[2] Other wrestlers he trained included B. Brian Blair, Bob Orton Jr., Dick Slater, Hercules, Mike Graham, Paul Orndorff, Riki Choshu, Ron Simmons, Scott Casey, Scott Hall, Ted DiBiase and The Great Muta.[2][4][7]

In 1987, he began working with Jim Crockett Promotions as a heel to participate in a feud between his disciple Lex Luger and Dusty Rhodes. During the feud, he was billed as "The Master of the Japanese Sleeper," a sleeper hold. During a match within the feud, Matsuda locked Johnny Weaver, who was in Rhodes' corner for one of the matches, in the hold, and the prolonged application of the hold caused Weaver to bleed profusely from the mouth.[2] In the coming years, Matsuda worked for World Championship Wrestling as the manager in early 1989 for the Yamasaki Corporation (a renamed Four Horsemen) as well as working with Terry Funk's stable, The J-Tex Corporation, as their business agent from Japan.[8] His last match was against Osamu Kido at the age of 53 on December 26, 1990, in Hamamatsu, Japan, in an event that also featured Lou Thesz, who also wrestled his last professional match, and Nick Bockwinkel.


Kojima died at his home in Tampa, Florida, on November 27, 1999, of colon cancer and liver cancer; he was 62 years old.[6][7]

Championships and accomplishments


  1. ^ Madigan, Dan (2007). "Dorada de lucha libre: Las Leyendas, las peleas, los fósforos del resentimiento (the golden age of lucha libre: the legends, the feuds, the grudge matches): Diablo Velasco". Mondo Lucha A Go-Go: the bizarre & honorable world of wild Mexican wrestling. HarperCollins Publisher. pp. 203–205. ISBN 978-0-06-085583-3.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Hiro Matsuda profile". Online World of Wrestling. Archived from the original on June 22, 2020. Retrieved April 14, 2023.
  3. ^ Hoops, Brian (December 10, 2015). "Daily pro wrestling history (12/10): Terry Funk wins the NWA World Title". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Archived from the original on December 7, 2022. Retrieved April 14, 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d Mooneyham, Mike (December 5, 1999). "Hiro Matsuda Hero To Family, Friends". The Wrestling Gospel. Archived from the original on July 1, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2023.
  5. ^ Hogan, Hulk (2002). Hollywood Hulk Hogan. Simon & Schuster. p. 25. ISBN 9780743475563.
  6. ^ a b Gibson, Linda (November 28, 1999). "Old-school wrestling trainer dies". Tampa Bay Times. Times Publishing Company. Archived from the original on June 9, 2021. Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  7. ^ a b Molinaro, John (November 28, 1999). "Hiro Matsuda remembered". Slam! Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. Archived from the original on November 24, 2020. Retrieved April 14, 2023.
  8. ^ Johnson, Mike (December 26, 2020). "HORSEMEN WHO WEREN'T HORSEMEN, HIRO MATSUDA MANAGING THE HORSEMEN, SUSPENSIONS AND MORE". PWInsider.com. Archived from the original on January 28, 2021. Retrieved April 14, 2023.
  9. ^ Florida Tag Team Title history At wrestling-titles.com
  10. ^ NWA Southern Heavyweight Title (Florida) history At wrestling-titles.com
  11. ^ NWA World Junior Heavyweight Title history At wrestling-titles.com
  12. ^ NWA World Tag Team Title (Florida version) history At wrestling-titles.com
  13. ^ a b Hiro Matsuda At Cagematch.net
  14. ^ All Asia Tag Team Title history At wrestling-titles.com
  15. ^ NWA North American Tag Team Title (Los Angeles/Japan) history At wrestling-titles.com
  16. ^ NWA World Tag Team Title (Mid-America) history At wrestling-titles.com
  17. ^ Oliver, Greg (2017-12-07). "Oooooh yeaaahhhh! PWHF announces Class of 2018". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Archived from the original on December 8, 2017. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  18. ^ "2018 WWE HALL OF FAME LEGACY WING INDUCTEES ARE". PWInsider.com. 2018-04-05. Retrieved 2022-05-13.