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Great Kojika


Real NameShinya Kojika

Lifespan - 4/28/42

6’ 210 lbs. - Hakodata, Hokkaido, Japan

Athletic BackgroundSumo

Teacher(s) - Rikidozan [JWA Dojo]

Professional BackgroundJWA(`63-), Tennessee(`67), Georgia(`68),

Los Angeles(`69-`70), All Japan(`73-`86), IWE(`77-`78), Big Japan(`96-), Indies(`09-)

AliasesShinya Kojika, Dory Boy, Kung Fu Lee, Masked Man G.K., Shinja Kojika

Peak Years`69-`74

Place in HistoryA big kid from Hokkaido who found his way into the pro-wrestling world, Shinya Kojika went from a rikishi going into the JWA Dojo to being a cult favorite on the independent scene in the Greater Tokyo Area.  Kojika was one of the last disciples of Rikidozan.  He did his time in the JWA undercards before traveling to the United States.  While abroad, Kojika mainly teamed with Motoshi Okuma in Southern promotions as the Rising Suns.  Not unlike many Japanese, he worked as a generic Oriental villain even going as “Kung Fu Lee” in some territories.  His tour was largely unremarkable, although he had a main event feud with Mil Mascaras in Los Angeles and he was poised to work a bigger role when he returned to Japan.  The JWA was limping along in the wake of its two biggest stars, Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki, both leaving, forming their own companies and, most importantly, taking the TV with them.  After a failed merger with New Japan, Seiji Sakaguchi and more talent left, leaving Kintaro Oki, Umanosuke Ueda, Great Kojika and others as the featured stars.  A month before the JWA folded, Kojika and Gentetsu Matsuoka captured the All Asian Tag titles, which dated back to the early days of the promotion.  Baba brought over many of the JWA wrestlers, but some, like Matsuoka felt they were not treated fairly and did not sign.  However, Kojika and the All Asian titles were revived with Kojika reforming his team with Motoshi Okuma, now known as Gokudo Combi.  While they were never a top tier tag team, they were an upper midcard act with a gangster element to their presentation not unlike Masahiro Chono in future New Japan.  They were the main holders of the titles in the late 1970s and it really became the role that both men became known for.  Kojika continued in All Japan until the mid-1980s, but an aging leftover from the JWA days had little place in the company.  He pursued some other businesses outside pro-wrestling, but was ultimately pulled back in.  In the early 1990s, Japanese pro-wrestling began fracturing with all sorts of groups starting up and most failing after a while.  When Kendo Nagasaki’s NOW promotion closed up after two years, he and NOW president Eiji Tosaka partnered up with the Great Kojika to form Big Japan Pro-Wrestling based in Yokohama.  This new group looked to overcome its financial limitations by capitalizing on the death match craze and taking it to new levels of creativity and gore.  While other companies had bigger stars, regular foreigners and ran some big shows, Big Japan had a limited talent pool and small audience, but the dedication of both carried them through in time.  They used Mitsuhiro Matsunaga and Mr. Pogo as established deathmatch wrestlers and the generation that followed them was perhaps the apex of that style in terms of quality.  Concurrent to their deathmatch scene, Big Japan developed “traditional” wrestlers like Yoshihiro Tajiri and Daisuke Sekimoto that helped round out their cards.  In addition to those two elements, Kojika made appearances himself in the undercards.  A head of a company who, despite a long and respectable career, looked more like an aging salaryman than a former pro-wrestler willing to dress up in funny outfits and have comedy matches was a crowd-pleasing gimmick.  Kojika even makes appearances in outside promotions and most famously became the oldest pro-wrestling champion in his early 70s.  When one looks at the totality of the career of the Great Kojika, he is a significant character who successfully reinvented himself and headed up a successful and enduring, although small, company.  While his time in the JWA and All Japan might not have been legendary, he was a longtime supporting character in two of the major companies and he was able to turn that notoriety into a second life in pro-wrestling.