Masashi Ozawa, best known to wrestling fans as Killer Khan, passed away on December 29th at the age of 76.
Ozawa, who began his in-ring career in 1971 with the Japan Wrestling Association, made appearances for New Japan Pro Wrestling, World Wrestling Federation, National Wrestling Alliance, Championship Wrestling From Florida, Georgia Championship Wrestling, Mid-South Wrestling, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, World Class Championship Wrestling, All Japan Pro Wrestling, Stampede Wrestling and more during his career.
During his career, Ozawa was a World Class World Television Champion, a Stampede North American Heavyweight Champion, a NWA Florida United States Tag Team Champion (with Pak Song), a Mid-South Mississippi Champion and a Mid-South Louisiana Champion
New Japan Pro Wrestling issued a statement on Ozawa’s passing which reads, “Former wrestler Masashi Ozawa, better known to wrestling fans as Killer Khan passed away on December 29 after collapsing in his bar in Tokyo. He was 76. After training in sumo in the famed Kasukano stable, Ozawa joined the JWA in January 1971. Standing at an imposing 195 cm (6’6”), hopes were high for him as a prospect when he joined New Japan Pro-Wrestling in 1973. In 1978 on excursion to Mexico he transformed himself into a Mongolian inspired persona that sparked a hugely successful campaign in America in 1979 as Killer Khan. Khan transitioned into the WWF in 1980, and after a famous knee drop that put Andre the Giant on the injured list with an injured right leg, instantly found himself the top heel in the organization, with big matches against Hulk Hogan ensuing. On his return to NJPW he was in the top flight as he had been overseas, with an influence felt today- particuarly in the Mongolian Chops used in the years to come by Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Great-O-Khan and others. In April 1982, the fifth MSG Series saw Antonio Inoki forced to withdraw with a right knee injury. Inoki nominated Khan to take his place in the final with Andre, and the result was a thrilling match that saw Khan advanced in status even in defeat. In 1983, Khan joined Riki Choshu in Choshu’s influential Ishingun faction. From there, he would follow Choshu to Japan Pro-Wrestling in 1985, wrestling in the All Japan ring as a result as well as back in the WWF. Khan retired from pro-wrestling in November 1987 in New Jersey before running numerous bars and restaurants in Tokyo. New Japan Pro-Wrestling sends it’s deepest sympathies to Killer Khan’s family, friends and fans.”
WWE issued a statement on Ozawa’s passing which reads, “WWE is saddened to learn that Masashi Ozawa, known to sports-entertainment fans as Killer Khan, passed away at age 76. The Japanese-born competitor was an imposing figure in the ring and highlighted his career with memorable rivalries against Legends such as Bob Backlund, Pedro Morales, Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan and more. After a brief return to WWE in 1987 with Mr. Fuji as his manager, Killer Khan would retire from sports-entertainment. Following his career in the ring, Ozawa owned a restaurant in Tokyo. WWE extends its condolences to Ozawa’s family, friends and fans.”