Harry Fujiwara (May 4, 1934 - August 28, 2016) was an American former professional wrestler and manager, best known by his ring name Mr. Fuji. He was infamous for often throwing salt in the eyes of face wrestlers. Although he was billed as Japanese, he is a Japanese-American born in Hawaii.
Professional wrestling career
Early career (1964–1971)
Fujiwara made his professional wrestling debut on December 15, 1965 in his native Hawaii under the ring name Mr. Fujiwara. He won his first championship, the NWA Hawaii Tag Team Championship, with Curtis Iaukea on January 7, 1966. He shortened his ring name to Mr. Fuji and toured many territories, including Don Owen's Portland, Oregon based NWA Pacific Northwest Wrestling where he won many championships.
World Wide Wrestling Federation (1972–1974)
Fuji debuted in Vince McMahon, Sr.'s World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1972 as a heel. He formed a tag team with Professor Toru Tanaka and the duo were managed by the Grand Wizard. Tanaka provided his physical massive strength and Fuji brought his devious ring psychology to the team, which earned him the nickname "The Devious One". Fuji used to throw salt in his opponent's eyes, which earned him victories. They defeated Sonny King and Chief Jay Strongbow on June 27, 1972 for their first World Tag Team Championship. They quickly ascended to the main event status, defending the titles against WWWF World Heavyweight Champion Pedro Morales and Bruno Sammartino on several occasions, throughout the year. During the feud, Fuji earned a shot at the WWWF title against Morales on August 22 but lost by count-out. They reigned for eleven months, making them the third longest WWWF World Tag Team Champions in history. They would lose the championship to Tony Garea and Haystacks Calhoun on May 30, 1973.
They continued to feud with Garea and Calhoun for the titles before defeating them on September 11 in a rematch to win their second WWWF World Tag Team Championship. With their title recapture, their feud with Garea and his new partner Dean Ho continued. On November 14, Fuji and Tanaka lost the titles to Garea and Ho. After failing to recapture the title from Garea and Ho, Fuji and Tanaka left the WWWF in 1974.
Georgia Championship Wrestling (1975)
Fuji and Tanaka debuted in Georgia Championship Wrestling in August 1975. On September 19, 1975, they participated in a four-team tournament where they defeated former WWWF rivals Tony Garea and Dean Ho in the finals to win the vacant NWA Georgia Tag Team Championship. They would lose the titles to Bob Backlund and Jerry Brisco a month later. Shortly after their title loss, they left GCW and toured other territories and won several titles.
Return to the WWWF (1977–1978)
Fuji and Tanaka returned to WWWF in 1977. They took on Freddie Blassie as their manager. On September 27, 1977, they defeated Larry Zbyzsko and longtime rival Tony Garea in the finals of a tag team tournament to win their third WWWF World Tag Team Championship. They wrestled in many six-man and eight-man tag team matches during their third reign. They would eventually lose the titles to Dino Bravo and Dominic DeNucci on March 14, 1978 edition of Championship Wrestling. Shortly after, they left WWWF again.
Touring the territories (1979–1981)
Fuji and Tanaka continued to tour the territories in 1979 where they won titles again. Later that same year, they stopped teaming and began wrestling individually. Fuji had success, winning several singles titles in many promotions including World Wrestling Council, NWA New Zealand and Maple Leaf Wrestling.
Return to the WWF (1981–1996)
Teaming with Mr. Saito (1981–1982)
Fuji returned to World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1981, which had been renamed World Wrestling Federation in March 1979. He formed a tag team with Mr. Saito, which was managed by Captain Lou Albano. They began a feud with tag champions Tony Garea and Rick Martel, whom they defeated on October 17, 1981 edition of Championship Wrestling to win their first Tag Team Championship, though it was Fuji's fourth individual reign. They began feuding with The Strongbows (Chief Jay and Jules) in the fall of 1981. This culminated in a title match on June 28, 1982 at Madison Square Garden (MSG) where the Strongbows won the championship. On July 13 edition of Championship Wrestling, they defeated the Strongbows in a two out of three falls match for Fuji's fifth and Saito's second WWF Tag Team Championship. The feud of these two teams ended after Fuji and Saito lost the titles to the Strongbows on October 30 edition of Championship Wrestling. Fuji teamed briefly with jobber Tiger Chung Lee, but they had little success in the ring. In a brief angle, Fuji turned on Chung Lee and beat him clean in a poorly publicized grudge match. Afterward, Fuji continued to wrestle on his own and Chung Lee remained as a preliminary jobber.
Managerial career (1985–1996)
Fuji retired from wrestling in 1985 and became a heel manager. As a manager, Fuji would "blind" his opponents by throwing salt in their eyes. He would carry a little bag of salt in his tights. His first client was George Steele. However, Steele would go on to become a fan favorite and left Fuji. Fuji's next client was Don Muraco. They both formed a popular duo and appeared in a video package called "Fuji Vice", which was a mockery of Miami Vice. Fuji and Muraco then began a feud with Ricky Steamboat, resulting in Steamboat defeating Fuji in several matches during the feud. Fuji briefly managed Jim Neidhart, whose contract he later sold to Jimmy Hart. In 1987, he bought the contract of Demolition (Ax and Smash) from Johnny V. He then managed Demolition to the Tag Team Championship as well as bringing Killer Khan and Sika back to the WWF. At Survivor Series, he turned on Demolition and began managing Demolition's rival tag team, the Powers of Pain (Warlord and Barbarian).
At WrestleMania V, Fuji teamed with the Powers of Pain in a 3-on-2 handicap match against Demolition for their Tag Team Championship. Fuji and Powers were defeated after Ax pinned Fuji. Fuji sold the individual contracts of Powers of Pain to managers Slick and Bobby Heenan and brought The Orient Express (Pat Tanaka and Akio Sato) to the WWF. Orient Express got involved in a feud with The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty). Orient Express got involved in Demolition's feud with the Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal). Fuji reunited with Demolition (who by this time had a third member, Crush) at that point. Demolition was phased out while the Orient Express took on Legion of Doom in matches. Fuji briefly managed The Berzerker from 1991 to 1993.
Fuji's greatest success and popularity as a manager came later that same year in November 1992 when he introduced the mammoth Yokozuna to the WWF. Under Fuji's tutelage, Yokozuna won the 1993 Royal Rumble match and two WWF World Championships, first from Bret Hart at WrestleMania IX, and again from Hulk Hogan at King of the Ring. Later that year, Fuji was joined by "spokesman" James E. Cornette. In late 1993, Fuji once again began managing Crush after he turned on Randy Savage.
Yokozuna fired Cornette in March 1996 after becoming a fan favorite. Fuji was last seen accompanying Yokozuna as a fan favorite to the ring for a six-man tag team match involving Yokozuna against "Camp Cornette" at WrestleMania 12. Cornette continued to feud with Yokozuna and his teammates while Fuji left the WWF shortly after.
Although Fuji wore a traditional Japanese kimono while managing Yokozuna, he is best known for wearing a tuxedo and bowler hat-akin to the James Bond series character Oddjob–incorporating paint around his eyes during his duration as manager of Demolition.
After leaving wrestling, Fujiwara retired to the city of Knoxville, Tennessee. In 1997, he sued the makers of the video game WCW vs. nWo World Tour, claiming that the character "Master Fuji" was based on him. Though the base of this character was actually Japanese wrestler Yoshiaki Fujiwara, it was actually close enough to Mr. Fuji that the lawsuit was settled in Fujiwara's favor.
Fujiwara operated a training dojo out of Jefferson City, Tennessee, and Dandridge, Tennessee until 2001.
Mr. Fuji was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31, 2007, by his former charge and Fuji Vice co-star Don Muraco. Mr. Fuji was in a wheelchair at the time of the induction, due to nine knee operations.
Fujiwara died at home in Clarksville, Tennessee, on August 28, 2016; he was 82 years old. No cause of death has been revealed.
- Wrestlers managed
- "The Devious One"
- "The Samurai Warrior"
Championships and accomplishments
- Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
- NWA Mid-Pacific Promotions
- NWA Hawaii Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Curtis Iaukea (1) and Karl Von Steiger (1)
- NWA New Zealand
- NWA British Commonwealth Heavyweight Championship (New Zealand version) (1 time)
- NWA San Francisco
- NWA United States Heavyweight Championship (San Francisco version) (1 time)
- Pacific Northwest Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #445 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003
- Southeastern Championship Wrestling
- NWA Southeastern Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Toru Tanaka
- World Championship Wrestling (Australia)
- IWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Tiger Jeet Singh
- World Wide Wrestling Federation / World Wrestling Federation / World Wrestling Entertainment
- World Wrestling Council
- WWC North American Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- WWC North American Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Pierre Martel
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
- Worst Manager of the Year (1984, 1985, 1987–1995)