Masa Saito Death – Parkinson’s Disease
1942-2018 (Age 76)
Former Japanese wrestling star, Masa Saito has died after an eighteen year battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 76.
Prior to his career in the WWF, Masa (born “Masanori”), was already in the spotlight – competing in freestyle wrestling in the 1964 Summer Olympic games in Tokyo.Verne Gagne‘s AWA – once again in a tag team, working opposite Jesse Ventura as the ‘The Far East-West Connection’.
Saito’s AWA run would take a detour after an incident with Ken Patera that started at a local McDonald’s.
A Brawl with the Police
According to the Schenectady Gazette, Ken Patera was irate after being refused service at a Waukesha, Wisconsin McDonald’s on April 6, 1984. The restaurant was closed at the time, but the lights were on as they were shooting a commercial. The Gazette reported that Patera threw a 30-pound rock through the McDonald’s service window. Police responded to Patera’s hotel room, which he was sharing with Saito.When police confronted Saito about a man matching Patera’s description being in the hotel room, a brawl ensued. According to Dave Meltzer “It took 18 officers to finally subdue Patera and Saito. Ten of the officers were seriously injured, six by Saito and four by Patera, including a female officer who suffered a broken leg and had to retire from police work.”
Wrestling lore aside, the Schenectady Gazette reported a more modest number of officers who sustained injuries during the incident with Ken Patera and Masa Saito – three, to be precise.
In June of 1985, both men were convicted, each receiving a two year sentence.
Saito was released 6 months early, returning to the AWA on Christmas night of 1986. Saito would eventually go on to become the AWA World Heavyweight Champion – defeating Larry Zbyszko at the Tokoyo Dome on February 10, 1990.
In the early and mid 90s, Saito made sporadic appearances for WCW, including an appearance at Starrcade ’95. Ultimately, Saito retired from in-ring competition in 1999.
Masa Saito Death
Shortly after his retirement, Saito would take on his biggest battle – that of a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, dealt to Saito in the year 2000. He would fight Parkinson’s for nearly two decades.
Masanori Saito died from complications of Parkinson’s disease on July 14, 2018. He was 76 years old at the time of his passing.