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Hiro Matsuda (1937-1999)


Real NameYasuhiro Kojima

Lifespan - 7/22/37 - 11/27/99

6'1" 230 lbs. - Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan

Athletic BackgroundBaseball

Teacher(s)Karl Gotch, Rikidozan

Professional BackgroundPeru(`57), Mexico, Texas, Florida(`63-`65), Oklahoma(`64), Memphis(`65-`66), IWE(`66-`67), Florida(`69-`87), JCP/NWA(`87-`89)

AliasesYasuhiro Kojima

Peak Years`63-`72

Place in HistoryYasuhiro Kojima was just a promising young athlete when he left his homeland in the days before wrestling's boom in Japan. His stay in North America ended up lasting far longer than the typical learning excursion and when he returned in the post-Rikidozan puroresu world, he was a star, but not one of the level that might be expected. He did two tours with the IWE, before returning to America, where he remained for the rest of his in-ring career. Dory Funk Jr. likened him to Bret Hart as a no-frills technician who just knew how to put together a strong match that was entertaining in and of itself. He was one of the main top stars when Eddie Graham was directing Championship Wrestling from Florida to becoming the top regional promotion. When he was paired with Danny Hodge, it was magic and it is said that Graham was pushing for Matsuda to become the NWA Heavyweight champion. He feuded with Graham and Terry Funk in super-hot battles prior to the arrival of Jack Brisco, who edged him out in most regards. He continued to be a strong star with Florida for several more years, and continued to be a business partner of Graham until his death, after which he and Duke Keomuka took ownership in Florida's final years before closing it in February of 1987. Matsuda had, prior to retiring, became the tough old coach that helped youngster break in after breaking them down. He was a Gotch trainee himself, so Matsuda was a legit shooter and did not let muscleheads escape unscathed. The story of him breaking a young Terry Bollea's leg before teaching him is well-known wrestling lore. Besides Hulk Hogan, Matsuda taught Paul Orndorff, Lex Luger and Scott Hall. This might not make a strong case for his ability to produce similar workers, but his Japanese proteges: Riki Choshu, Keiji Muto and Osamu Nishimura might make up the difference as exceptional talents, along with lesser American stars who were good workers like Dick Slater, Brian Blair and Mike Graham. He was a firm believer in excellent cardio and he ran off many wannabes with his endless squats. After Florida died out and Graham committed suicide, Matsuda went on to manage the Four Horsemen and Ric Flair in Japan before getting out of the business. He battled hard against liver cancer before it took him in late 1999.