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Mitsu Arakawa (1927-1997)

Real Name

Mitsuharu Arakawa

Lifespan - 5/23/27 - 4/17/97

5’7” 242 lbs. - Honolulu, HI

Athletic Background - n/a


The Great Yamato

Professional BackgroundChicago(`54-`56), Minneapolis(`55-`58), Amarillo(`56), Vancouver(`61), San Francisco(`61-`62), Stampede(`63), Vancouver(`63), Australia(`65), WWA(`66-`67,`68), AWA(`67), Buffalo(`68), WWWF(`68-`69), WWA(`70-`74), NWF(`72), AWA(`73)


The Great Mitsu

Peak Years`59-`67

Place in History

The Japanese heel is one of the great characters of pro-wrestling that was highly common from the post-war years right up through the end of the territories and beyond.  Many men, both Japanese and Hawaiian, have successfully played the role by using any number of gimmickry to establish the otherness of people from East Asia.  Mitsu Arakawa was one of the early adopters of this persona and he was successful with it throughout his long career.  Arakawa took much of his act from his “cousin” Kenji Shibuya who was slightly older and had learned under the legendary Mr. Moto.  Throwing salt, using illegal karate kicks and judo chops and being both sneaky and vicious were par for the course when it came to bad guys from Japan.  The Shibuya-Arakawa pairing became one of the greatest Japanese heel teams of all-time, touring around the Midwest, Western Canada and San Francisco.  Arakawa was the key heel who Roy Shire booked when he was going into the Bay Area.  Arakawa, the master of the stomach claw, battling Bill Melby with his chiseled abs headlined the first show by Shire at the Cow Palace.  Shire often considered the angle his greatest, which is fair because it started the promotion with a hot angle and momentum for years to come.  Arakawa was established immediately and Shibuya was soon brought in as his partner.  The team along with Ray Stevens were the main heels during those initial years.  Arakawa left the area to head to Australia as top heel, while Shibuya stayed in San Francisco.  While Arakawa did have some singles success, he mainly was partnered up with up-and-coming Japanese heels in tag teams.  Whether they were fellow Hawaiians playing Japanese villains like Toru Tanaka and Mr. Fuji or genuine Japanese talent like Masa Saito and Akihisa Mera (the future Great Kabuki), Arakawa was a master of that character and passed it on to a number of pro-wrestlers.  Late in his career, Arakawa was running off his name value in the Midwest, whether he was tagging with or managing young heels.  He was well respected by his peers who kept him around even though his best years were behind him.  Arakawa retired in the 1970s and spent his remaining days working as bartender and spending time with his family.  Mitsu Arakawa like many of the Japanese bad guys of the Golden Age was well liked by his peers and easy to work with in the ring.  Although he is not remember in the same regard as many of his partners and disciples, Mitsu Arakawa was truly one of the greats at playing that character and he deserves to be remembered accordingly.