Kōji Kitao (August 12, 1963 - February 10, 2019) was a former sumo wrestler and professional wrestler, born in Mie, Japan. He was sumo's 60th Yokozuna, and the only yokozuna in sumo history not to win a top division tournament championship. He was forced to leave sumo at the end of 1987 after a falling-out with his stable master Tatsunami, and became a professional wrestler in 1990.


New Japan Pro Wrestling (1990)

Trained at the New Japan Pro Wrestling Dojo, he debuted as a wrestler on February 10, 1990, at the NJPW/AJPW Supershow in the Tokyo Dome, where he defeated Bam Bam Bigelow. Unfortunately, his stay in NJPW didn't last long, because in July 1990, he was fired for talking with Megane Super, who was starting up Super World of Sports.

Pro Wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts (1991-1998)

Kitao then wandered in martial arts, but in 1992 he returned to wrestling by challenging UWF International top star Nobuhiko Takada to a (worked) mixed martial arts match. Pre-match discussions over the outcome of the match led to an agreement being reached for a draw. Takada, however, saw an opportunity and double-crossed Kitao during the match, legitimately KO'ing him with a kick to the head. Takada had won, but the importance of the match was that Kitao was truly back into puroresu. Kitao would later make two more MMA appearances - these times not worked - a loss to Pedro Otavio at the first Universal Vale Tudo Fighting event, and at UFC 9, losing to Mark Hall on a referee's stoppage. At PRIDE 1, he defeated future WWE superstar Nathan Jones with an armlock.

In 1996, he had an appearance in the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie The Quest as the fighting representative of Japan.

In the following years he formed his own promotion called "Kitao Pro Wrestling", later a stable of the Wrestle Association-R (WAR) promotion under the name Bukō Dōjō. Among the wrestlers that came out of the dojo were Masaaki Mochizuki and Takashi Okamura, who later became business partners of Último Dragón in his junior heavyweight ventures.

Kitao won his only title, the WAR World Six-Man Tag Team Championship, with Mochizuki and WAR rookie Nobukazu Hirai in 1998, but retired from pro wrestling altogether later in the year.

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