Sad news out of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, where it’s been reported that former wrestling star Dean Ho – real name Dean Higuchi – has passed away at the age of 80 years old. Dean Ho was a long-time veteran of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) in a 20+ year career that spanned the 1960s through the 1980s. According to reports, Higuchi passed away on February 20, 2021, and is only just being announced now.
Saddened to hear the passing of wrestling great Dean Higuchi (Dean Ho).
For those who don’t know, Dean was a former WWWF Tag Team champion w/Tony Garea in the mid 70’s & a mainstay in the PNW feuding w/ Gene Kiniski in 1968.
I appreciate meeting him him years ago. RIP. 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/3inK3uhJ2d
— Bollywood Boyz (@BollywoodBoyz) February 28, 2021
A native of Honolulu, Hawaii, Dean Higuchi was a bodybuilding star in his native Hawaii during the 1950s, where he won Mr. Hawaiian Islands in 1956 and placed 6th in that year’s Mr. America competition as well. The following year, he opened a gym that began to attract notable names from the pro wrestling world as clients, including Don Muraco, Jimmy Snuka, and Karl Gotch. By the early 1960s, he was convinced to try his hand in pro wrestling, and after training with the likes of The Destroyer (Dick Beyer) and Billy White Wolf, he made his pro wrestling debut in the Pacific Northwest with Portland Wrestling in 1962. For much of the 60s, he split his time between Portland Wrestling and Hawaii’s NWA Mid-Pacific territory, capturing the NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team titles in 1967 with Johnny Kostas.
In 1968, he made his Canadian debut with Stu Hart‘s Stampede Wrestling in Calgary, Alberta, which lead to him joining Gene Kiniski‘s NWA Vancouver territory the following year. Over the next couple of years, he would become a 4x NWA Vancouver Canadian Tag Team Champion, including two reigns with Steven Little Bear. In 1971, he also began competing in Texas with Fritz Von Erich‘s NWA Big Time Wrestling (before it rebranded as World Class Championship Wrestling in the 1980s). In 1972, he would win the NWA American Tag Team titles as Fritz Von Erich’s partner. But by the end of 1973, New York came calling, when Vince McMahon Sr. invited Ho to join the WWWF.
As Dean Ho, he made his WWWF debut in October of 1973, and a month later, paired with Tony Garea, defeated Mr. Fuji & Toru Tanaka to become the new WWWF World Tag Team Champions. They held the titles for 175-days before losing them to the Valiant Brothers (Jimmy & Johnny Valiant) in May of 1974. Ho & Garea would move on to feud with The Blackjacks after their loss, but by September of 1974, the grind of the WWWF schedule was too much and he left the company, returning to NWA Vancouver. He would continue to work in multiple NWA territories, including solid runs in Georgia Championship Wrestling, Championship Southeastern Championship Wrestling, and NWA Big Time in San Francisco, where he became a 2x NWA San Francisco US Heavyweight Champion. In 1978, he would make his Japan debut with International Wrestling Enterprise (IWE). He remained particularly loyal to NWA Vancouver and Portland Wrestling, ultimately retiring in 1983. In 1990, he moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where he remained a part of the community until his death this past week.
Last Word on Pro Wrestling sends its deepest condolences to the Higuchi family and Dean Ho’s friends and peers during this time.
Hearing that Dean "Ho" Higuchi passed away at the age of 80 on February 20th.
Dean held many championships including a WWWF Tag Team Championship and US Heavyweight Title (SF). He was also a helluva a nice guy. pic.twitter.com/g7tV7sfVAX
— Matt Farmer (@mattfarmer93) February 28, 2021
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