In 2017, it looked as if New Japan Pro-Wrestling was strapping the proverbial rocket to Katsuya Kitamura’s back. Sadly, five years later, Tokyo Sports reports Kitamura died on Oct. 12 at age 36.
The former amateur wrestling champion had a great look, and seemed poised to enter the company’s heavyweight ranks after running the table against the likes of Shota Umino & Ren Narita to win the Young Lion Cup in the summer of ‘17. The following year, while in the midst of a seven match “Trial Series” against stars ranging from Jay White to Yuji Nagata, Kitamura suffered a concussion during a tag match. He never wrestled for the company again.
Kitamura’s cause of death hasn’t been revealed, but Tokyo Sports says he recently called an ambulance to take him to the hospital because he was feeling “unwell.”
Prior to signing with NJPW in 2016, his successful career as an amateur wrestler ended in 2011 when he received a two year ban from the sport after testing positive for anabolic steroids. He claimed he ingested them accidentally via supplements he bought outside of Japan, but did not appeal the decision.
After his pro wrestling career ended, Kitamura fought once for mixed martial arts promotion RIZIN, which he lost.
May he rest in peace.