15 Athletes Who Were Tragically Murdered


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15. Rikidozan

Rikidozan was a legendary professional wrestler who hailed from Korea, but made a name for himself in Japan. He was 39 years old when he died on December 15, 1963. Rikidozan had won the heavyweight crown in three different wrestling organizations and also added a pair of tag-team belts. In 1957 he created the Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance and was one of his nation’s most-recognizable figures.

His popularity couldn’t save him when a member of the Yakuza organized crime gang stabbed him in a Tokyo nightclub on December 8 with a blade that was soaked in urine. Rikidozan managed to physically throw his attacker out, but died a week later when his abdominal lining became inflamed. His killer was jailed for seven years for manslaughter and reportedly apologized to Rikidozan’s family on the anniversary of his death every year and also visited his grave.