New Japan Pro Wrestling sent out the following:

Harley Race (1943-2019)

New Japan Pro Wrestling was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of American wrestling great Harley Race on August 1 at the age of 76.

Race never wrestled in an NJPW ring, but his legendary status was revered in Japan, where his 8 NWA title reigns were recognised by fans who called him ‘Mr. Pro Wrestling’, and where his almost majestic approach to a punishing in-ring style earned him the alternate nickname of the ‘Beautiful Beast’.

Debuting as a teen in 1960, his Japanese debut long predated New Japan Pro Wrestling. Instead, in 1968 and 1969, he wrestled for its precursor, the JWA. This would include matches where he teamed with Texan Bull Ramos to face Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba.

The bulk of Race’s Japanese career was spent wrestling for Baba in All Japan Pro Wrestling, where he shot to fame with notable matches against Baba himself, as well as Jumbo Tsuruta.

Race may not have wrestled in NJPW, but did stand in a New Japan ring after his retirement. Still closely tied to the NWA, he appeared as a representative of the organization on January 4 2014 during the NWA World Heavyweight Championship match between Rob Conway and Satoshi Kojima. He had further communications with New Japan in November that year in connection to the WLW Wrestling Camp he organized, Race working to develop young talent well into the latter years of his life.

The deepest sympathies of everyone at New Japan Pro Wrestling go out to Harley Race’s family, friends and fans.