The WWE announced today that WWE Hall of Famer Harry “Mr. Fuji” Fujiwara passed away this morning. He was 82-years-old. The cause of his death was not immediately disclosed.
Fujiwara, a native of Honolulu, Hawaii, started his professional career in 1965 in his native Hawaii. After years of touring several territories, he made his way to Vince McMahon Sr.’s World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1972. Over the next four decades, Fujiwara established himself as a tag-team specialist and one of the most decorated managers of his or any other era. In total, Fujiwara accumulated five WWF Tag Team Championship reigns; three with Professor Toru Tanaka and two with Masa Saito. Fujiwara also managed several legendary figures in professional wrestling.
— WrestleZone.com (@WRESTLEZONEcom) August 28, 2016
The company highlighted his tour of duty with the WWWF (later changed to the WWF) in their statement on his passing.
“Fuji spent over 30 years entertaining fans worldwide as both an in-ring competitor and one of WWE’s greatest managers. A five-time WWE World Tag Team Champion, Fuji was infamous for keeping small bags of salt in his tights which he would throw into his opponents’ eyes.
“After retiring from the ring, Fuji managed a litany of WWE’s most feared Superstars, such as George ‘The Animal’ Steele, Kamala, Killer Khan, Demolition, The Powers of Pain, Yokozuna and most notably, ‘Magnificent’ Don Muraco.”
Muraco, who was managed by Fujiwara for several years, starting in 1985, inducted his former manager into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007. Fujiwara accepted the induction in a wheelchair as nine knee operation left him disabled.
Saddened to hear of Mr. Fuji’s passing. He brought so many entertaining moments to the world of pro-wrestling. https://t.co/rJfsUZL4EC
— Nattie (@NatbyNature) August 28, 2016
Also included in WWE’s statement is the impact on the entertainment value of Muraco and Fujiwara’s on-screen pairing.
“With Muraco, Fuji treated WWE fans to the classic Fuji Vice, Fuji General, Fuji Bandito and Fuji Chan series. These series were ahead of their time because spoofing successful television shows as they tried to break into Hollywood was the epitome of sports-entertainment.
“His career will be remembered by different generations for different reasons but Mr. Fuji, whether as a Superstar or manager, is one of the most entertaining performers in the history of WWE.”
While he remained out of the spotlight after leaving the WWF in the 1990s, Fujiwara left an impact on the sport that still resonates with many. Several current and former WWF performers have extended their condolences and offered their love and appreciation for Fujiwara’s contributions.
“So sad. Mr.Fuji was the first man to ever rib me, and taught me the beginnings of the Art of Ribbing,” 2011 WWE Hall of Fame inductee Tamra “Sunny” Sytch wrote on Facebook about Fujiwara’s passing. “RIP. You, Davey [Boy Smith] and Owen [Hart] are gonna have a ball up there.”
An unforgettable character in front of the camera and an even better one behind it. Rest in Peace, Mr. Fuji. pic.twitter.com/NkpQE8pyAU
— Triple H (@TripleH) August 28, 2016
Former longtime WWE referee Jimmy Korderas also chimed in on Fujiwara’s passing: “Saddened to hear of the passing of Mr. Fuji,” Korderas wrote on Twitter. “RIP Uncle Harry!”
Fujiwara joins Joanie “Chyna” Laurer, Axl Rotten, Balls Mahoney, “Iron” Mike Sharpe, Kris Travis, Robert Windham, and Charlie Fulton as other notable members of the professional wrestling industry who passed away in 2016.
In his passing, Fujiwara has left a legacy as one of professional wrestling’s most highly-regarded and well-respected performers and the best unintentional ambassador for the salt industry.
[Image via WWE]