Sakaguchi Seiji

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Sakaguchi Seiji
Ring name(s) Sakaguchi Seiji
Big Saka
Real name Sakaguchi Seiji
Nickname(s) "Sekai no Arawashi"
(Wild Eagle of the World)
Billed height 196 cm (6 ft 5 in)
Billed weight 125 kg (280 lb; 19.7 st)
Born 1942/2/17 (1942-02-17) (age 76)
Kurume, Fukuoka
Shishō Yoshimura Michiaki
Karl Gotch
Debut 1967/8/5
Retired 1990/3/15

Sakaguchi Seiji (坂口征二?) is a retired professional wrestler, promoter, and jūdōka. For long time, he was one of the top executives of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

In jūdō

At Meiji University, Sakaguchi was trained by Akio Kaminaga, a silver medalist from the 1958 World Championship and the 1964 Olympics. Prior to the Olympics in Tokyo, Sakaguchi served as Kaminaga's sparring partner.

After graduating from Meiji, he was employed at Asahi Kasei, one of the biggest companies for chemicals and material science. In 1965, Sakaguchi won the All Japan Jūdō Championship, and later in the year, he won the bronze medal in the World Championships.

However, he realized that jūdō would not be included in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. In 1966, he failed to win the All Japan Championship. Soon, he was scouted by Japan Pro-Wrestling Association (JWA).

In puroresu

Japan Wrestling Association (1967-1973)

Right after Sakaguchi joined the JWA in 1967, he was sent overseas and wrestled in various territories including Los Angeles and Texas.

After returning home, he became one of the main eventers in the JWA. In 1971, he teamed with Antonio Inoki to win the 2nd Annual NWA Tag Team League. After Inoki was expelled from the JWA in 1971/12, Sakaguchi subsituted him to challenge Dory Funk Jr.'s NWA World Heavyweight Championship. In 1972/2, Sakaguchi also won the NWA United National Heavyweight Championship, which was previously held by Inoki, and became a tag team partner of the company's top wrestler, Giant Baba. Although the team won the NWA International Tag Team Championship, Baba would eventually leave the JWA, and Ōki Kintarō and Sakaguchi became the top stars of the promotion. Ōki & Sakaguchi won the International Tag Team Title in 1972/12.

Although Sakaguchi once announced the merge of JWA and New Japan, Ōki decided to keep JWA "alive" and the plan of the merge was dropped. In 1973/4, Sakaguchi and his followers left JWA and joined New Japan. This led NET (today's TV Asahi), which was airing JWA's weekly show, to start airing New Japan cards instead.

New Japan Pro-Wrestling (1973-1998)

Main article: New Japan Pro-Wrestling

Sakaguchi became the vice president and the second top star of New Japan. Addition of Sakaguchi to its roster, New Japan, which was struggling without television program, gained a primetime spot in the NET.

In 1974/8, Inoki & Sakaguchi won the NWA North American Tag Team Championship. He would hold the title several times with different partners such as Strong Kobayashi and Chōshū Riki.

Sakaguchi is also remembered for a 1975 World League match against Ōki, with whom he had a grude over the direction of the JWA before he joined New Japan.

Sakaguchi won NWF North American Heavyweight Championship in 1979/1, defeating Johnny Powers. Though he lost the title to Tiger Jeet Singh in September, he defeated Pat Patterson in November for the WWF version of the title.

Around this time, he would concentrate on his job as vice president of the company. He would slowly step down from the spotlight, and finally in 1985, he lost to Fujinami Tatsumi, who was already gooming to be the second top star of the company few years earlier.

After Inoki went into politics, Sakaguchi became the president of New Japan in 1989 and offically retired as an active competitor in March of the following year.

Sakaguchi was President of the National Wrestling Alliance from 1992 to 1993.

Sakaguchi became the Chairman of the Board in 1999/6 and the CEO in 2002/7. He is currently an advisor for New Japan.

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