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MITSUHARU Misawa, one of the most popular professional wrestlers in Japan, has died after being given a back suplex in a tag team match, police said yesterday.
Misawa, 46, and Go Shiozaki were taking on Akitoshi Saito and Bison Smith in a GHC World Tag Team title match in Hiroshima on Saturday when the move was carried out on him.
He suffered a cardiac arrest and was taken to hospital but doctors confirmed his death shortly afterwards, a local police official said.
Japanese sports newspapers said thousands of shocked spectators watched efforts to resuscitate him in the ring.
The back suplex involves a wrestler picking up his opponent and dropping him onto the mat.
Making his professional debut in 1981, Misawa became popular partly for wearing his trademark mask designed to look like a tiger's head.
He set up wrestling organisation Pro-Wrestling Noah in 2000 and became its president. - Sapa-AFP