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Kokichi Endo


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Kokichi Endo (遠藤幸吉)


Profession: Wrestler, Executive, Commentator (Color)
Real name: Kokichi Endo
Professional names: not applicable
Life: 3/4/1926- (presumed alive)
Born: Kanai (now Yamagata City), Yamagata, Japan
Career: 1951-1966
Promotions: Japan Wrestling Association
Height/Weight: 180cm/125kg (5’11”/275 lbs.)
Signature Moves: Dropkick
Titles: NWA World Tag Team Championship (1x, w/Rikidozan), Pacific Coast Tag Team title (1x, w/Rikidozan)

Summary: Kokichi Endo was one of the JWA's most prominent early figures, most notably working as Rikidozan’s tag partner in the mid-fifties. Besides this, Endo is best known for his later executive role.


Left: Endo and Rikidozan with singer Hibari Misora.2048146534_a7dc8875095356c4f94c60537ed2dff38608b361_31.2.9.2(1).thumb.jpeg.bf602e7ba53b1da82b66a9d42781f08d.jpeg

Kokichi Endo was a founding member of the International Judo Association, a short-lived professional judo promotion that is regarded in some ways as an antecedent of the JWA. About a year after the Association’s final show, Endo and fellow judoka Yasuyuki Sakabe entered pro wrestling, as one of the Japanese athletes given a crash course by Bobby Bruns for the 1951 Torii Oasis Shriners Club tour. He toured overseas with the Great Togo in 1952, before returning home to become one of the JWA's charter members. He was Rikidōzan's opponent for an exhibition match at the completion ceremony for the Rikidōzan Dojo on July 30, 1953. In August 1954, Endo tagged alongside Rikidōzan to win Hans Schnabel & Lou Newman's fictitious Pacific Coast tag team titles; two years later, they had a program with the Sharpe brothers which earned them a fifteen-day reign with the NWA World Tag Team titles.

Alongside Toyonobori, Yoshinosato, and Michiaki Yoshimura, Endo was one part of the executive council promoted after Rikidōzan's death. By that point, he was the last remaining wrestler to have worked the promotion's first show. While retiring from the ring in 1966, Endo remained a top executive as the accounting manager until the 1971 coup. According to a 2018 Weekly Fight article, he spoke the best English of all the senior executives. As for his politicking, though, he had mixed results. On one hand, his efforts to block Isao Yoshiwara from purchasing the Riki Sports Palace for the company led Yoshihara to form the competing International Wrestling Enterprise. On the other hand, Endo was the one who made the JWA's second network deal with NET (the future TV Asahi) possible, as he planted disinformation in a Tokyo Sports article, which exaggerated the threat of the Great Togo's would-be third promotion, in order to convince Nippon Television to let them shop for a second deal.

1361298137_R(5).thumb.jpg.d39f43f7289a5f71acbaf80fb2ee17a7.jpgRight: Endo (right) and Yoshinosato pose with Sam Muchnick in August 1967.

NET's World Pro Wrestling saw Endo debut as a commentator. This kept him involved in the business after his dismissal in the 1971 coup attempt. He would continue in this capacity through the early years of the NJPW era of the program. By all accounts, he wasn’t very good at it. However, Endo's history with Mike LeBell made him a net positive for New Japan, connecting them to the Los Angeles territory. He also served as a referee for Inoki’s February 6, 1976 match against Willem Ruska. After the match, though, he blocked Ruska’s angry attempt at a judo throw, which exposed Ruska and brought an end to Endo’s duties in this capacity. He continued to appear onscreen as late as the following year, including as a commentator, a judge for the Ali fight, and the recipient of an attack by former valet Umanosuke Ueda in a memorable backstage segment. 

In a serialized interview with NJPW salesman Naoki Otsuka in G Spirits magazine, interviewer Kagehiro Osano remarks that Endo promoted shows in the Kanagata area.


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