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Kinji Shibuya (1921 - 2009)


Real NameRobert Kinji “Bob” Shibuya
Lifespan5/16/1921 - 5/3/2010
5'9" 249 lbs. - Los Angeles, CA

Athletic Background - Football (Semi-Pro), Wrestling (University of Hawaii)

Teacher(s) - Al Karasick, Oki Shikina

Professional BackgroundMid-Atlantic(`54-`56), Houston(`56), Minneapolis(`57), Kansas City(`60), Columbus(`60-`61), San Francisco(`61), Stampede(`63), Vancouver(`63-`64), San Francisco(`64-`68), Amarillo(`67), JWA(`67,`70), Australia(`70), Los Angeles(`71-`72), San Francisco(`73), Vancouver(`76)

AliasesBob Shibuya, Sato Keomuka, Mr. Hito, Great Kojo, Kenji Shibuya

Peak Years`63-`68

Place in HistoryFor the better part of fifty years in the pro-wrestling business, the stereotypical Japanese heel has been a staple across the land.  Stocky men in long tights with bare feet, who wore sinister beards and wooden shoes, threw salt and judo chops and relied on sneakiness to gain the advantage.  If you look at long-term success, no one else will have ever found more with that persona than Kinji Shibuya.  Between 1961 and 1975, he was one of Roy Shire’s top stars in the San Francisco promotion right up with Ray Stevens and Pat Patterson.  Shibuya did work as a single throughout his career, but he primarily worked tags with almost all the major “Japanese” heels of the era - Mr. Moto, Duke Keomuka, Haru Sasaki, Mitsu Arakawa and Masa Saito.  Bob Shibuya was the son of Japanese immigrants whose size and skill in football afforded him some great opportunities as a young man.  While playing ball in Hawaii, he was recruited to try out pro-wrestling and he found his calling.  Shibuya spent his early years working as a top heel in the Upper Midwest and Western Canada.  Many of the aforementioned Japanese heel standards were already in place, so success came pretty quickly.  He soon hooked up with Mitsu Arakawa who became his regular partner from the mid-50s through the mid-60s.  Shibuya was powerfully built and had an intensity that helped him get over strongly as a credible heel.  In the course of a match, Shibuya was an excellent ring general who could build heat with subtleties and some hard chops.  He also took big bumps and sold well for any babyface opponents and gained a favorable reputation amongst his peers.  The Shibuya and Arakawa team came into San Francisco and eventually split apart as Shibuya was moved into a top feud over the US title with Ray Stevens.  After working with a few other partners, Masa Saito was brought in and things clicked yet again.  Saito turned into an excellent heel, who learned how to work under Shibuya’s tutelage.  The two would work as partners and rivals for five years in both San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Shibuya was in his fifties by this time and although he maintained his look and psychology, was slowing down.  He worked a few more years, trying his hand at booking and working a few smaller promotions before retiring in 1976.  Following his pro-wrestling career, Kinji Shibuya transitioned to a regular job and peaceful life of gardening and raising koi.  The role of the stereotypical sneaky “Oriental” was mastered by a number of men, but none reached the level of success, drawing ability and local celebrity of Kinji Shibuya.