Kazuo Sakurada
Sakurada (as Kendo Nagasaki) choking Dusty Rhodes during a match, 1982
BornSeptember 26, 1948 (1948-09-26)
Abashiri, Hokkaido, Allied-occupied Japan
DiedJanuary 12, 2020 (2020-01-13) (aged 71)
Chiba, Chiba, Japan
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)
Billed height1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Billed weight119 kg (262 lb)
DebutJune 21, 1971
RetiredJuly 7, 2000[7]

Kazuo Sakurada (Japanese: 桜田 一男, Sakurada Kazuo, September 26, 1948 – January 12, 2020), better known as Mr. Sakurada, The Dragonmaster, and as the Japanese version of Kendo Nagasaki (ケンドー・ナガサキ), was a Japanese professional wrestler. He was best known for his work in Stampede Wrestling, National Wrestling Alliance, and World Championship Wrestling. Sakurada was also highly regarded by Bret Hart as one of his most significant trainers alongside Katsui Adachi or Mr. Hito, with whom he taught extensively in Hart Dungeon.[8]

Sumo wrestling career

Personal information
Height1.87 m (6 ft 1+12 in)
Weight115 kg (254 lb)
DebutJanuary 1964[9]
Highest rankMakushita 13 (January 1970)[9]
RetiredMarch 1971[9]
Championships1 (Jonidan)

Kazuo Sakurada was born on September 26, 1948, in Abashiri, Hokkaido.[9] After graduating from junior high school, he joined the Tatsunami stable to pursue sumo. While there, he first met future professional wrestler Genichiro Tenryu. He made his sumo debut in January 1964 under his last name (櫻田). In September 1966, he changed his shikona to Hiroshi Abashiri (網走洋 一男).[9] In May 1969, he changed his shikona again to Midorimine (翠巒).[9] Throughout his seven-year career in sumo, his highest rank was Makushita 13, and his only tournament championship win was in September 1966, with an undefeated record of seven wins.[9] In March 1971, Sakurada retired from sumo wrestling.[9]

Career record

Year January
Hatsu basho, Tokyo
Haru basho, Osaka
Natsu basho, Tokyo
Nagoya basho, Nagoya
Aki basho, Tokyo
Kyūshū basho, Fukuoka
1964 (Maezumo) East Jonokuchi #16
East Jonidan #80
East Jonidan #56
East Jonidan #33
East Jonidan #61
1965 West Jonidan #14
West Jonidan #30
West Jonidan #5
West Jonidan #21
West Sandanme #87
East Sandanme #67
1966 East Sandanme #49
West Sandanme #38
West Sandanme #68
East Sandanme #77
Sat out due to injury
West Jonidan #24

West Sandanme #12
1967 West Sandanme #20
East Sandanme #4
West Sandanme #52
West Sandanme #33
East Sandanme #22
East Sandanme #1
1968 West Makushita #39
East Sandanme #5
West Sandanme #27
East Sandanme #18
West Sandanme #32
East Sandanme #20
1969 West Sandanme #13
West Sandanme #1
East Sandanme #7
West Makushita #43
West Makushita #33
East Makushita #19
1970 West Makushita #13
West Makushita #17
West Makushita #14
East Makushita #19
East Makushita #14
Makushita #26
1971 East Makushita #40
Sat out due to injury
East Sandanme #10
x x x x
Record given as wins–losses–absencies    Top division champion Top division runner-up Retired Lower divisions Non-participation

Sanshō key: F=Fighting spirit; O=Outstanding performance; T=Technique     Also shown: =Kinboshi; P=Playoff(s)
Divisions: MakuuchiJūryōMakushitaSandanmeJonidanJonokuchi

Makuuchi ranks: YokozunaŌzekiSekiwakeKomusubiMaegashira

Professional wrestling career

Early years (1971–1976)

Kazuo Sakurada debuted on June 21, 1971, in the old Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance against Kim Duk. On March 8, 1973, he became involved in a shoot when his mid-card match against rookie Tsutomu Oshiro went horribly wrong and Sakurada began beating Oshiro severely, knocking him out of the ring. Oshiro was going to jump to New Japan Pro-Wrestling along with his mentor Seiji Sakaguchi and friend Kengo Kimura,[11] and Sakurada took actions into his own hands, blaming them for jumping ship. When the JPWA closed in April 1973 Sakurada joined All Japan Pro Wrestling.[12]

In 1975, he joined International Wrestling Enterprise.

United States and Stampede Wrestling (1976–1981)

In 1976, Sakurada made his North America debut in Texas. Now as Mr. Sakurada, he found his earliest success in Stampede Wrestling. He defeated two-time champion Leo Burke to win his first and only Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship on May 20, 1978, in Edmonton, Alberta.[a] He held the title for a little over three months before losing to Paddy Ryan on September 1.[a] He then became highly regarded in Stampede's tag team division, defeating Keith and Bret Hart in early 1979 to win his first Stampede International Tag Team Championship with Mr. Hito.[b] Their second win came later on the same year after the defeat of Dory Funk Jr. and Larry Lane, only to be toppled once again by the Hart brothers.[b] By 1980, Hito had moved on to singles competition, leaving Sakurada to form a team with Kasavubu. They, too, defeated the Harts, marking Sakurada's third and final tag team championship reign in Stampede.[b] This reign would be ended at the hands of the Harts' brother-in-law Jim Neidhart and Hercules Ayala that same year.[b]

Continental Wrestling Association (1981–1982)

In the early 1980s, Sakurada had started working in various southern American promotions, starting with the Continental Wrestling Association in Memphis. During this time, he began using the "Kendo Nagasaki'" gimmick, a Japanese Samurai character previously made famous by British wrestler Peter Thornley dating back to 1964.[13] This incarnation was vastly different however; rather than wearing a mask, Sakurada wore face paint and a highly alternate style altogether.[13] His fierce character also made famous the Asian mist and frequently employed the Kendo stick as his signature weapon. As Nagasaki, he found a most prominent win in his victory over Jerry Lawler for the NWA/AWA Southern Heavyweight Title in 1982.[c] He would lose the title back to Lawler before pursuing new territory.[c]

National Wrestling Alliance (1982–1989)

After the Memphis territory, Nagasaki worked for NWA territories World Wrestling Council, Florida Championship Wrestling and Southeastern Championship Wrestling. He faced some of the top competition in the Florida territory throughout 1983 and 1984, and on January 22, 1984, he captured the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship from Mike Rotunda.[d] This kicked off a rivalry with the reputable Billy Jack Haynes, resulting in his title victory over Nagasaki in March of the same year. During his time with CWF, Nagasaki would also tag team with White Ninja. Following his departure from CWF, Nagasaki briefly worked for Von Erich's World Class Championship Wrestling in the mid '80s as "White Ninja", frequently partnering with "Super Black Ninja".[e] During the 1980s, Nagasaki teamed with Mr. Pogo as "the Ninja Express". The Ninja Express briefly returned to Japan to participate in New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Japan Cup tag team tournament in late 1987, finishing in second-to-last place.[14]

World Championship Wrestling (1989–1990)

In 1989, he performed on WCW television, using the ring name "The Dragonmaster". While there, he joined Gary Hart's J-Tex Corporation stable consisting of Terry Funk, Dick Slater, Buzz Sawyer, and The Great Muta.[f][15] This heel group, conceived in July 1989,[15] feuded with the Four Horsemen until ultimately disbanding in February 1990 after a final steel cage match at the Clash of the Champions X: Texas Shootout, a match largely overshadowed by the other Horsemen turning heel on Sting.[16][17]

Return to Japan (1990–2000)

In 1990, after so many years competing in North America, he returned to Japan as Kendo Nagasaki. He first joined Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling,[18] but later joined Super World of Sports.[19] Following SWS's collapse in 1992, he formed his own promotion, NOW (Network of Wrestling). In 1995, he closed NOW, and with a new business partner Shinya Kojika, formed Big Japan Pro Wrestling. Nagasaki teamed with Chris Michaels defeating Damian Stone and Joel Hartgood ECW's Big Ass Extreme Bash. After leaving BJW in 1999, Nagasaki wrestled semi-actively until 2000 where he had his last match on July 7, 2000, teaming with Ichiro Yaguchi, Shoji Nakamaki, and Yase Yaguchi in a loss to Atsushi Onita, Exciting Yoshida, Mitsunobu Kikuzawa, and Naoshi Sano on an Onita Pro show.[7]

Mixed martial arts

On September 26, 1995, in Setagaya, Tokyo, Sakurada lost a mixed martial arts match to American kickboxer Zane Frazier via knockout punch at Shooto: Vale Tudo Perception.[20] At the time, Sakurada had the reputation by pro wrestling insiders as being one of the toughest wrestlers in a street fight, as well as a shooter. This was possibly one of the reasons why he was chosen to take this fight, despite being 47 years old at the time.

Mixed martial arts record

Professional record breakdown
1 match 0 wins 1 loss
By knockout 0 1
By submission 0 0
By decision 0 0
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 0-1 United States Zane Frazier KO (punch) Shooto: Vale Tudo Perception September 26, 1995 1 0:36 Tokyo, Japan [20]


On January 12, 2020, Sakurada died at age 71 due to arrythmia.[13]

Championships and accomplishments


  1. ^ a b c Duncan & Will (2000) pp. 339–340, Chapter: "(Calgary) Alberta: Stampede Wrestling North American Heavyweight Title [Hart]"[31]
  2. ^ a b c d e Duncan & Will (2000) pp. 340–341, Chapter: "(Calgary) Alberta: Stampede Wrestling International Tag Team Title [Hart]"[30]
  3. ^ a b c Duncan & Will (2000) p. 195, Chapter: "Tennessee (Memphis): NWA / AWA Southern Heavyweight Title [Lawler]"[24]
  4. ^ a b Duncan & Will (2000) pp. 163–164, Chapter: (Miami) Florida: NWA Florida Heavyweight Title [Graham]"[21]
  5. ^ The same person who portrayed the White Ninja
  6. ^ previously worked with Sakurada as White Ninja and Super Black Ninja
  7. ^ Duncan & Will (2000) p. 164, Chapter: (Miami) Florida: NWA Florida Tag Team Title [Graham]"[23]
  8. ^ Duncan & Will (2000) pp. 275–276, Chapter: "(Dallas) Texas: NWA American Tag Team Title [Von Erich]"[25]
  9. ^ Duncan & Will (2000) pp. 317–320, Chapter: "(Oregon & Washington) Portland: NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Title"[27]
  10. ^ Duncan & Will (2000) p. 283, Chapter: "Texas: TWF Asian Heavyweight Title"[33]
  11. ^ Duncan & Will (2000) pp. 324–325, Chapter: "(Puerto Rico) Puerto Rico: WWC World Tag Team Title [Colon]"[34]


  • Hornbaker, Tim (2016). "Statistical notes". Legends of Pro Wrestling - 150 years of headlocks, body slams, and piledrivers (Revised ed.). New York, New York: Sports Publishing. ISBN 978-1-61321-808-2.
  • Duncan, Royal; Will, Gary (2000). Wrestling title histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Waterloo, ON: Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  1. ^ a b c d Oliver, Greg (January 12, 2020). "Wrestling world mourns Kendo Nagasaki, LA Parka". Slam Sports. Archived from the original on January 13, 2020. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  2. ^ Ocampo, Ernesto (January 12, 2020). "A los 71 años falleció Kazuo Sakurada "Kendo Nagasaki"". Súper Luchas (in Spanish). Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  3. ^ "Kazuo Sakurada >> Maches >> Mr. Sakurada". CageMatch. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  4. ^ "Kazuo Sakurada >> Maches >> Rambo Sakurada". CageMatch. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  5. ^ "Kazuo Sakurada >> Maches >> Dream Machine". CageMatch. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  6. ^ "Kazuo Sakurada >> Maches >> Great Kendo". CageMatch. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Kazuo Sakurada >> Matches". CageMatch. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  8. ^ Hart, Bret (February 20, 2004). "Bret Hart's Calgary Sun column for February 20, 2004". Archived from the original on April 7, 2005.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h "翠巒 力士情報" [Suiluan (Midori Mine #)]. SumoDB (in Japanese). Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  10. ^ "Midorimine Rikishi Information". Sumo Reference. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
  11. ^ "Dynamic Series: 1973/02/16 - 03/08 Cards". Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  12. ^ "Kazuo Sakurada >> Matches >> All Japan Pro Wrestling". CageMatch. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  13. ^ a b c Meltzer, Dave (January 12, 2020). "Daily Update: Kazuo Sakurada passes away, Saudi Arabia, Rich Swann". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  14. ^ "Japan Cup Tag Team League". ProWrestlingHistory.com. November 9 – December 7, 1987. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  15. ^ a b Cawthon, Graham (2014). the History of Professional Wrestling Vol 4: World Championship Wrestling 1989-1994. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1499656343.
  16. ^ "Wrestling Timeline: Sting". The Wrestler/Inside Wrestling. Kappa Publications. June 2007. pp. 66–71. Volume 15, 2007.
  17. ^ "NWA Clash Of The Champions #10 - "Texas Shootout" « Events Database « CAGEMATCH - The Internet Wrestling Database". www.cagematch.net. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
  18. ^ "Kazuo Sakurada >> Matches >> Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling". CageMatch. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  19. ^ "Kazuo Sakurada >> Matches >> Super World of Sports". CageMatch. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  20. ^ a b "Shooto: Vale Tudo Perception". Sherdog. Archived from the original on May 14, 2013.
  21. ^ Duncan & Will 2000, pp. 163–164.
  22. ^ Hoops, Brian (January 22, 2017). "Daily pro wrestling history (01/22): Royal Rumble 1994 ends in controversy". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  23. ^ Duncan & Will 2000, p. 164.
  24. ^ Duncan & Will 2000, p. 195.
  25. ^ Duncan & Will 2000, pp. 275–276.
  26. ^ "N.W.A. American Tag Team Title". Wrestling-Titles.com. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  27. ^ Duncan & Will 2000, pp. 317–320.
  28. ^ Kazou Sakurada Cagematch.net retrieved January 17, 2020
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 16, 2008. Retrieved September 15, 2010.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  30. ^ Duncan & Will 2000, pp. 340–341.
  31. ^ Duncan & Will 2000, pp. 339–340.
  32. ^ "Stampede Wrestling Hall of Fame (1948-1990)". Puroresu Dojo. 2003.
  33. ^ Duncan & Will 2000, p. 283.
  34. ^ Duncan & Will 2000, pp. 324–325.
  35. ^ Hoops, Brian (January 16, 2019). "Pro wrestling history (01/16): Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton win WCW Tag Team Titles". Wrestling Observer Figure Four Online. Retrieved January 18, 2019.