|Ring name(s)||Chōshū Riki|
|Real name||Kwak Gwang-ung (Korean)|
Yoshida Mitsuo (Japanese)
|Billed height||184 cm (6 ft 1⁄2 in)|
|Billed weight||120 kg (260 lb; 19 st)|
Tokuyama, Yamaguchi, Japan
Chōshū Riki (長州 力) is a Japanese professional wrestler of Korean descent. His real name is Kwak Gwang-ung (郭 光雄), and Japanese name is Yoshida Mitsuo (吉田 光雄). He is considered one of the most influential wrestlers in Japan in the 1980s and 1990s and known as the first wrestler to popularize the sasori gatame (サソリ固め), better known in English as scorpion deathlock or sharpshooter.
Amateur wrestling career
Chōshū learned jūdō since elementary school but switched to amateur wrestling in high school. While in Senshū University, he won the All Japan Wrestling Championship. He also participated in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich as a South Korean representative.
Professional wrestling career
New Japan Pro-Wrestling (1974-1984)
He was scouted by Antonio Inoki's New Japan Pro-Wrestling and turned pro after graduating from the university. He defeated El Greco with scorpion deathlock in his debut match on 1974/8/8 in Tōkyō. Soon after, Chōshū was sent to North America to gain experience.
He eventually took over the spot as the third guy in the heavyweight division from Strong Kobayashi but was still behind the junior heavyweight competitors, Fujinami Tatsumi and Kimura Kengo in terms of the popularity because of the looks. Although Chōshū teamed with Sakaguchi Seiji, the compnay's vice president and the number two star, to hold NWA North American Tag Team Championship, he was still in a "supporting role", and Fujinami was considered as the third guy in the promotion.
In 1981/10, Fujinami moved up to the heavyweight and naturally pushed Chōshū down to the fourth guy in the division. Chōshū was again sent to Mexico and won the prestigeous UWA World Heavyweight Championship on 1982/7/23, defeating Fujinami's longtime rival Canek. About a month later, Fujinami also won his first heavyweight title, WWF International Heavyweight Championship at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Chōshū, after losing the UWA title back to Canek, returned to Japan. In his first match back, he teamed with Inoki and Fujinami in a 6-man tag team match against Abdullah the Butcher, Bad News Allen, and S.D. Jones. From the beginning of the match, Chōshū was showing his frustration that he entered the ring and was introduced before Fujinami, which meant Fujinami was a bigger star (despite the fact that Chōshū had won a world heavyweight title in Mexico, something Fujinami had not accomplished yet). During the match, Fujinami and Chōshū started arguing and finally started brawling each other. Few weeks later, they faced each other in a singles match in Hiroshima which ended as a no contest. Also around the same month, Kobayashi Kuniaki, who was wrestling in Los Angeles, came back to Japan.
Chōshū again left Japan for a short period of time and teamed with Masa Saitō in the WWF circuit. When he returned, Chōshū brought Saitō as his mentor. Joined by Kobayashi and Killer Khan, a new stable, Kakumeigun (革命軍), or "Revolution Army", was formed. With the Shin Kokusai Gundan (新国際軍団) that was already feuding with the New Japan guys at the time, a famous triangle feud stared.
The battles between Chōshū and Fujinami became one of the most famous and popular rivalries in the history of puroresu. Their match for WWF International Title on 1983/4/3 won the Puroresu Awards' "Match of the Year".
In the summer of 1983, Animal Hamaguchi split from Rusher Kimura and Teranishi Isamu of the IWE group and joined Chōshū. Soon after, Teranishi also joined, leaving Kimura without a stable. With the return of Yatsu Yoshiaki from the United States, Kakumeigun expanded and became Ishin Gundan (維新軍団), also meaning "Revolution Army".
All Japan Pro Wrestling (1984-1987)
While being unpopular among the gaijin wrestlers of All Japan, Chōshū brought a new style to the promotion, which inspired Tenryū Gen'ichirō to reform the "American" style of All Japan. This would later be inherited into the stiffness of the Shitennō matches. Chōshū's popularity also helped All Japan's weekly television show to be moved back to a prime time spot after many years.
Chōshū also had matches against the great gaijin stars such as Bruiser Brody, Harley Race, Nick Bockwinkel, Ric Flair, Terry Gordy, etc. It was an opportunity he did not have when he was in New Japan.
New Japan Pro Wrestling (1987-1998)
Chōshū returned to New Japan in 1987 with some of the Japan Pro wrestlers. In 1988/7, he finally pinned Inoki in a singles match.
In November of that year, however, he was injured with a kick which Maeda Akira threw into his face during a 6-man tag team match and was out of action until late December.
He would eventually become the main booker of the promotion.
In 1996, he won the G1 Climax, winning every single match in the tournament. In 1998/1, he retired from the ring; for his retirement match, he wrestled five matches in one night, winning four out of five matches. He would focus on booking matches for New Japan.
Retirement would not last long, as Ōnita Atsushi challenged Chōshū to a barbed-wire death match in 2000/7. Chōshū accepted the challenge and won.
In 2002/2, he was forced to take responsibility for the departure of Mutō Keiji and some wrestlers from New Japan, and his role as the main booker was taken away. After publicly criticizing New Japan owner Antonio Inoki, he left the company once again.
He formed Fighting of World Japan (WJ) in 2003, but the new promotion was full of problems and by the summer of 2004, WJ was already inactive. Chōshū kept the rookies in his group as "Riki Pro" and started wrestling for the independent promotions.
In 2004, New Japan's then president Simon Kelly Inoki brought Chōshū back as the booker without a contract as a full-time employee.
Titles and Tournaments
- NWA North American Tag Team Championship
- UWA World Heavyweight Championship
- UWA World Tag Team Championship
- WWF International Heavyweight Championship
- NWA International Tag Team Championship
- PWF Heavyweight Championship
- IWGP Tag Team Championship (3 times)
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
- The Greatest 18 Club Championship
- WMG Tag Team Championship