Monday, September 12, 2011

Midget wrestler Little Tokyo dies at age 70

Posted By on Mon, Sep 12, 2011 at 12:10 PM

Little Tokyo wrestled on WrestleMania IIIs undercard.
  • percivalafriend.com
  • Little Tokyo wrestled on WrestleMania III's undercard.
One of the best midget wrestlers of all time, Little Tokyo (Shigeri Akabane), died of a massive heart attack in St. Joseph, Missouri, last Tuesday. Tokyo was 70.

Little Tokyo may be best remembered for teaming with St. Joseph's Lord Littlebrook (Eric Tovey) and King Kong Bundy against Little Beaver, Haiti Kid and Hillbilly Jim on the undercard of the WWE's WrestleMania III in front of 93,000 people at the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan in March 1987.

The Charleston Post and Courier's Mike Mooneyham wrote a nice tribute to Little Tokyo, featuring quotes from Lord Littlebrook's son, Little Kato (aka Chris Dube). Little Tokyo trained Dube, whom my former colleague Peter Rugg profiled in April ("Little Bastard").

Mooneyham wrote that Little Tokyo had been hospitalized. He suffered a heart attack while getting up to use the bathroom and never recovered. Tokyo had been battling leukemia for six months and was given a year to live.

The Wrestling Observer Newsletter credited Little Tokyo as being "the best worker" of Lord Littlebrook's St. Joseph stable of wrestlers.

From the Observer:

"As Tovey, his trainer, aged, he replaced himself with Little Tokyo as the world champion of his crew. While the belt was not actually recognized by the NWA, he worked around the world billed as the NWA world midget champion (including on some AWA shows as well), starting in 1974 when he won it from Little Beaver, until losing to Cowboy Lang on April 25, 1980, in Calgary. He regained the title in 1981 and lost it on the 1981 Christmas show in Dallas to Tiny Tom. He defeated Cowboy Lang for the title on May 30, 1983, in Vancouver and defended it for a number of years. He was the last champion of the old version of the territorial NWA and never actually lost the title."

Little Tokyo can be seen in some of these highlights — in a four-way midget leg stretcher — from WrestleMania III.

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