Former New Japan Pro Wrestling wrestler and agent Yukihiro Sakada, better known as Tokyo Joe Daigo, passed away on Sunday in Calgary at the age of 75 after a long battle with colon cancer.
Sakada, who lived in Calgary for the past 40 years, helped train several local wrestlers who went on to achieve mainstream recognition including TJ Wilson (Tyson Kidd), Harry Smith and current SmackDown Women’s Champion Natalya Neidhart in Stu Hart’s famous “Hart Dungeon.”
He also helped train numerous stars in his native Japan during his career including Jushin Liger, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Kensuke Sasaki, Shinya Hashimoto, Hiroshi Hase, Hiro Saito, Super Strong Machine, George Takano and numerous others.
“He really taught me a lot about training, and about life really,” Smith, who changed his Twitter picture to a photo of himself and Sakada after news of his passing, told the Wrestling Observer. “He had a sixth sense, second sight or maybe a bit psychic. I’m not sure if anything with his leg injury had to do with that, but he was always right about everything.”
Sakada kept his cancer a secret for years while living in seclusion in Calgary, according to WON. His wrestling career spanned from 1966 to 1974 and included stints in the United States, Canada and Japan, but was cut short after a career-ending auto accident.
Sakada is best known for his backstage tenure with NJPW, in which he worked as a trainer and talent scout. He is credited for helping superstars such as Bret “Hitman” Hart, Dynamtite Kid, Davey Boy Smith international exposure, as well as having a hand in the early training of The Undertaker and Bam Bam Bigelow.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.