After a botched sunset flip led to a freak injury three months ago, legendary Japanese wrestler Yoshihiro Takayama is stable, able to speak, but tragically paralyzed from the neck down, Dave Meltzer reports. According to various updates over the last few months, Takayama was hospitalized after the injury, but only now has been declared officially paralyzed with no movement. It’s a terrible tragedy that ends one of the greatest careers in Japanese wrestling history.
Takayama-san is one of the most decorated Japanese wrestlers over the last three decades, winning the Triple Crown, IWGP, and GHC heavyweight championships. His status as a combat sports demigod isn’t just due to his brilliant (and stiff) wrestling career, he was one-half of the craziest brawl in MMA history — his Pride 21 fight against Don Frye.
Takayama had no real business fighting in MMA, but he entered Pride Fighting Championships and ended up fighting some of the best in MMA history. It’s no surprise he went 0-4 in his Pride run against Frye, Semmy Schilt, Kazuyuki Fujita or even Bob Sapp (that was when Bob Sapp was trying), that was a murderer’s row, the surprise was that he stepped into the ring and went toe-to-toe with the Hall of Famers.
Simply put, Takayama is one of the best big men to ever battle in the Japanese pro wrestling ring, and he’s universally respected as an absolute badass by all MMA fighters. Here’s Don Frye wishing him well during his UFC Hall of Fame induction speech: