Giant Baba dead at 61
By GREG OLIVER -- SLAM!
The wrestling world has lost another giant.
Shohei "Giant" Baba is dead at 61 of liver failure.
Baba was always an athlete, and pitched in the Japanese
league for the Yomiuri Giants before injuring his shoulder.
Following the injury, he turned to pro wrestling under the
tutelage of the legendary Rikidozan. A fellow student was also bound for
greatness. His name was Antonio Inoki.
Baba and Inoki formed a tag team in the late 60s, but went
their separate ways and to equal greatness.
Giant Baba formed All-Japan Pro Wrestling in 1972, with
support from fellow wrestlers and friends like Bruno Sammartino, the
Funk Brothers and The Destroyer. Inoki went on to create New Japan Pro
In 1974, Baba was the first Japanese to hold an
American-version of the world title. He won the NWA title on December 2
by beating Jack Brisco, and losing it back to him a week later. He held
the title on two other occasions - in 1979 and 1980, trading it with
Harley Race. Baba also held a slew of titles in Japan.
Shohei Baba was born January 23, 1938 in Sanjyo-city,
Niigata. He eventually topped out at 6'8" (209cm), truly a giant by
Besides running All-Japan pro wrestling as President, Baba
was a tremendously well-respected teacher and many of his students are
the stars of today in Japan.
He wrestled pretty well until the end of his life, not
backing down from any challenge. His skills diminished in the final
years, but he was so respected and loved that fans continued to enjoy
-- With files from Puroresu Dojo