Kendo Nagasaki (Kazuo Sakurada) has passed away at the age of 71 after his pacemaker stopped, which led to a cardiac issues, according to reports from Japan (h/t PWInsider).
Debuting in 1971, Sakurada wrestled until 2001. He was best known for his samurai warrior gimmick in the 80s and 90s, using a kendo stick, wearing face paint, and at times utilizing Asian Mist on his opponents.
Beginning in Japan, Sakurada made his way to the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada, working in numerous territories including World Wrestling Council, Stampede Wrestling and Florida Championship Wrestling (winning the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship). He then returned to Japan in 1990 to finish out his pro wrestling years there.
During his time in Stampede Wrestling, Sakurada was considered a trusted man of Stu Hart and even had a hand in training WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart. In a 2015 interview with WWE, Bret mentioned Sakurada as one of his trainers.
“My dad taught Keith, Smith and Bruce when they started, but we had other wrestlers train us,” Hart said. “I learned some little things from my dad, some amateur wrestling and submission wrestling, but I was trained in pro wrestling by two Japanese wrestlers [Tokyo Joe and Kazuo Sakurada] who worked for my father.”
Wrestling Inc. sends our condolences to the family and friends of Kazuo Sakurada.