Koji Kitao Death – Kidney Failure

Wrestler Koji Kitao

Sumo wrestler-turned-professional Koji Kitao was known for controversy in sumo and pro wrestling.

1963-2019 (Age 55)

Koji Kitao is one of several sumo wrestlers to jump into the world of professional wrestling. Unfortunately, his exit from the sumo ranks was not by choice.

His departure from sumo was just one of several cases where Kitao’s temper apparently got the best of him.

Attaining Sumo Stardom at a Young Age

Born on August 12, 1963, he began competing in sumo at age 15. At age 22, he attained the prestigious rank of yokozuna. Regrettably, his sumo wrestling days would not last long.

In 1987, Kitao’s sumo stable boss forcibly retired Koji after a falling out. As we’ll see, his pro wrestling career also proved turbulent.

Kitao segued into a wrestling career, beginning in Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association (AWA). There, he worked under a mask as “The Monster Machine.”

Kitao traveled to Japan, working in New Japan Pro Wrestling, Super World of Sports, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and others.

Koji Self Destructs Again

Kitao’s Super World of Sports run is best remembered for a match against WWF Superstar Earthquake (aka John Tenta) where he refused to sell for Tenta. The promotion fired Kitao after he reportedly tried to injure his fellow sumo. Therefore, history repeated itself from Koji’s sumo days.

In 1996, Kitao decided to pursue a career in mixed martial arts, including an appearance at UFC 9. Subsequently, Kōji amassed a 1-2 record in MMA and according to The Japan Times, transitioned to coaching sumo.

The Death of Koji Kitao

Doctors diagnosed Kitao with kidney disease in 2013. The former sumo and professional wrestler dealt with health problems. Consequently, he passed away from renal failure on February 10, 2019. He was 55.

Other pro wrestlers who died in 2019 include Ashley Massaro, Harley Race, King Kong Bundy, “Mean” Gene Okerlund, Moondog Rex, Pedro Morales, Rick Bognar, Silver King, and The Destroyer.

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