Hart Dungeon Trainer Tokyo Joe Passes Away at 75

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This past Saturday, one of the most influential trainers in pro wrestling, Yukihiro Sakada, passed away in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, at the age of 75. Better known by the name “Tokyo Joe“, Sakada was a talent scout for NJPW as well as trainer for Stampede Wrestling, helping Stu Hart in the famed Hart Dungeon as well as assuming the head position when Stu was physically unable to continue.

Sakada wrestled from the 1966 until 1974, when an auto accident left him unable to continue as an active wrestler. He remained in Calgary to work with Stu Hart at Stampede Wrestling, as a booker, agent and trainer, as well as working as a talent scout for NJPW. Through his connections, many Stampede stars would get continued training in Japan and work for NJPW early in their careers, including Bret “Hitman” Hart, Dynamite Kid, Owen Hart, Chris Benoit, and others. He trained such Japanese legends as Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Hiroshi Hase, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Hiro Saito and many more.

Photo: Calgary Sun files

His final graduating class from the Hart Dungeon include current Smackdown Women’s Champion Natalya, her husband Tyson Kidd, WWE Superstar Viktor of The Ascension, Teddy Hart, and NJPW’s Davey Boy Smith Jr.