A tsukibito (付き人) is a rookie or trainee who serves as a personal attendant/assistant to his/her shishō or a wrestler in a higher rank.
Duties of a typical tsukibito for his/her shishōs may include but not limited to:
- seconding during the match
- being sparring partner
- carrying bags
- preparing for the match: washing ring robes, costume, and clothes, lacing up the boots, etc.
- accompanying for personal/private matters (e.g. dining out, partying, playing golf, etc.)
In some cases, when a wrestler leaves the promotion for another group, tsukibito often follows the shishō. For example, Yamamoto Kotetsu was the first one to follow Antonio Inoki when Inoki was expelled from JWA and formed New Japan Pro-Wrestling. When Sayama Satoru left New Japan in 1983 and opened the Super Tiger Gym, Yamazaki Kazuo joined him as one of the instructors.
Almost every Japanese wrestler who debuted before 2000 was a tsukibito for another wrestler at some point. Some examples:
- Antonio Inoki was a tsukibito for Rikidōzan
- Fujinami Tatsumi, Fujiwara Yoshiaki, Sayama Satoru, Takada Nobuhiko, Fujita Kazuyuki for Antonio Inoki
- Ōnita Atsushi, Koshinaka Shirō for Giant Baba
- Kimura Kengo, Hashimoto Shin'ya for Sakaguchi Seiji
- Misawa Mitsuharu for Jumbo Tsuruta
- Ogawa Yoshinari, Hirai Nobukazu for Tenryū Gen'ichirō
- Yamazaki Kazuo for Tiger Mask (original)
- Tanahashi Hiroshi for Mutō Keiji
- Tenzan Hiroyoshi, Nishimura Osamu, Fujita Kazuyuki for Hashimoto Shin'ya
- Hokuto Akira for Lioness Asuka