Former NJPW Young Lion Katsuya Kitamura Passes Away At 36

Katsuya Kitamura, a Japanese professional wrestler who won New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Young Lion Cup in 2017, passed away on October 12 at the age of 36.

Tokyo Sport reported that Kitamura "felt an abnormality in his physical condition on the same day and called an ambulance himself to the hospital. After that, his condition changed suddenly." The cause of death has not been publicly disclosed.

Kitamura stood six feet tall and weighed 265 pounds, which earned him the nickname "Wrestling Monster," and originally made headlines as an amateur wrestler According to the British media outlet Daily Star, Kitamura was a three-time All Japan Champion in the Greco-Roman 96-kg class, and was a contender to represent Japan in the 2012 London Olympics, but in June 2011, he received a two-year ban from the sport after testing positive for anabolic steroids. Kitamura, who was the first Japanese wrestler to fail a drug test, claimed he took the steroids by accident after purchasing supplements abroad, but he did not appeal his ban.

Kitamura joined the NJPW roster in 2015 and made his televised wrestling debut in 2017, but his time in the wrestling spotlight was relatively brief — he won the Young Lion Cup the year of his debut, but in March 2018, he suffered a concussion, and he retired from NJPW in 2019.

In his final years, Kitamura shifted his focus to bodybuilding and mixed martial arts. He made his MMA debut in November 2021 at the Rizin 32 tournament in Okinawa, where he lost to Bobby Ologun after being choked out at the start of the second round. He also hosted a YouTube channel called "Bulk Academy Katsuya Kitamura," where his last video was posted online on October 9.