Throughout it’s 20 year run, many famous wrestlers have been showcased on ITV’s World of Sport. Here we look at five wrestlers who you may not know competed on the programme…
1- TIGER MASK
The original Tiger Mask, real name Satoru Sayama, was a big star in the UK before his time in New Japan Pro Wrestling.
He was sent to Britain in the early 1980s in order to gain experience and quickly grew in popularity due to his speed and agility.
He wrestled under the name ‘Sammy Lee’, a play on martial arts film star Bruce Lee.
Trained by Karl Gotch- who had learned his trade from the infamous Wigan wrestlers of the 50s- Sayama would go on to revolutionise wrestling with his series of bouts against Dynamite Kid.
2- AKIRA MAEDA
Billed as the brother of Sammy Lee, ‘Kwik Kick Lee’ (Akira Maeda) came to Britain in 1982 and competed mostly in tag matches with the likes of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks.
Just like his ‘supposed’ brother Sammy Lee, Maeda had been sent to the UK from the NJPW dojo in order to improve his skills.
He would later become famous in Japan for deflecting from New Japan Pro Wrestling to form the Universal Wrestling Federation.
His most famous moment came in 1986 when he was involved in a bizarre shoot match with Andre the Giant.
3- JUSHIN LIGER
Another Japanese wrestling legend who made his name on these shores is none other than Jushin Liger- known in the UK as ‘Flying Fuji Yamada’.
He would wrestle for Brian Dixon’s All Star Wresting- winning the World Middleweight Championship twice in 1986 and 1987, both times defeating Rollerball Rocco.
Liger went on to become one of the most influential Junior Heavyweights in history, and still wrestles today for NJPW at the tender age of 51.
He still makes frequent trips to the UK and is scheduled to wrestle for Revolution Pro Wrestling’s Global Wars show on November 10th.
4- OWEN HART
Before making his name in the World Wrestling Federation, the youngest of the Hart Family supplemented his time in Calgary’s Stampede Wrestling with successive tours of Japan and the UK.
Known as ‘Bronco Owen Hart’ due to his hometown’s Western heritage, Owen would come to the ring in a cowboy hat and the Canadian flag and had a number of televised bouts with Marty Jones.
Owen would go on to considerable success in the WWF, famously feuding with his brother Bret before a freak accident ended his life during the Over the Edge Pay-Per-View on May 23, 1999.
And lastly, to perhaps the biggest name on this list- Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart- who had a stint for Max Crabtree’s Joint Promotions in the early 1980s.
Bret, under the name ‘Cowboy Bret Hart’, would have matches against the likes of Dynamite Kid, Tiger Dalibar Singh , Mal King Kong Kirk and Marty Jones during his short spell in the UK.
The Calgary native would later join the WWF- becoming arguably the biggest wrestling star of the mid 90s.
He would return to the UK in 1992, when he defended his Intercontinental Championship at Summerslam in front of a sold out 80,000 strong Wembley crowd.