|Ring name(s)||Higuchi Kanji|
|Real name||Higuchi Kanji|
|Billed height||178 cm (5 ft 10 in)|
|Billed weight||98 kg (220 lb; 15.4 st)|
|Died||2010/11/8 (aged 81)|
|Retired||1960 (as wrestler)|
1997 (as referee)
Joe Higuchi (ジョー樋口) was a former professional wrestler and referee. His real name is Higuchi Kanji (樋口 寛治). He was mostly known as a referee for Japan Pro-Wrestling Association (JWA) and All Japan Pro-Wrestling.
Higuchi practiced jūdō since his childhood. After the World War II, he became a jūdō instructor for the GHQ. It was during this time he learned English.
Higuchi participated in the interpromotional Japanese Weight Division Championships in 1956/10 for the light heavyweight division (86.28kg limit). The first and second round matches were said to be "shoot" since the card was not open to the media or public and some matches ended with forfeit due to injuries. In the first round, Higuchi broke an arm of Kaneko Takeo (JWA). He lost to Yoshimura Michiaki (JWA) in the second round. He was placed third in the light heavyweight ranking of the country.
As suggested by Yoshimura, Higuchi would eventually join JWA. He retired as an active wrestler in 1960.
After few years of absense, he returned to the JWA as a contact person for the gaijin talents. Out of the ring, he was known as a chef who would help the gaijin talents during the day the western-style restaurants were not yet popular.
Higuchi started refereeing in 1965.
All Japan Pro-Wrestling
Higuchi was one of the original members of All Japan Pro-Wrestling when it was founded by Giant Baba in 1972. He gained the fame as the senior referee of the company. He was also the first official Japanese referee of the National Wrestling Alliance and refereed a World Heavyweight Championship match between Jack Brisco and Dory Funk Jr. in St. Louis.
In the early 1980s, All Japan's matches were booked in a typical American style with a lot of unclean finishes. During this time, Higuchi was known for the "ref bumps" despite the fact that he was a former wrestler.
Though it was often criticized for being slow, his refereeing was very consistent. The speed of his counting, especially for the pinfall, rarely changed.
In 1997, he retired as a referee and became a caretaker of the gaijin wrestlers exclusively.
After the death of Giant Baba in 1999, Higuchi retired from All Japan.
In 2000, most of the All Japan roster left the company and started Pro-Wrestling NOAH. Nakada Ryū, a NOAH executive and former All Japan ring announcer, requested Higuchi to join the new company as a statutory auditor.
Higuchi became the chairman of the Global Honored Crown championship committee in 2001.
On 2010/11/8, Higuchi, who was know as one of the greatest referees, passed away due to a lung cancer at the age of 81.