Jumbo Tsuruta

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Jumbo Tsuruta
Birth nameTomomi Tsuruta
Born(1951-03-25)March 25, 1951
Yamanashi, Yamanashi, Japan
DiedMay 13, 2000(2000-05-13) (aged 49)
Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Cause of deathComplications from liver transplant
Alma materChuo University
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Jumbo Tsuruta
Tommy Tsuruta
The Terror of Yamanashi
Billed height1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)
Billed weight130 kg (290 lb)
Trained byDory Funk Jr.
Lou Thesz
All Japan Pro Wrestling
DebutMarch 24, 1973
RetiredFebruary 20, 1999

Tomomi "Tommy" Tsuruta (鶴田 友美, Tsuruta Tomomi, March 25, 1951 – May 13, 2000), better known by his ring name Jumbo Tsuruta (ジャンボ鶴田, Janbotsuruta), was a Japanese professional wrestler who wrestled for All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) for most of his career, and is well known for being the first ever Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion, having won the PWF Heavyweight Championship, the NWA United National Championship, and the NWA International Heavyweight Championship, and unifying the three titles. He is also known for being one-half of the first World Tag Team Champions with Yoshiaki Yatsu, having won the NWA International Tag Team Championship and the PWF Tag Team Championship, and unifying the two titles.

Early life[edit]

Tsuruta participated in many sports, such as swimming, basketball, and sumo, while attending Hikawa Senior High School in Yamanashi-shi, Yamanashi Prefecture.

Amateur wrestling career[edit]

While at Chuo University, he began an amateur wrestling career. He won the All Japan Amateur Wrestling Championship in freestyle and Greco-Roman as a superheavyweight (at the time, an unlimited class for those weighing over 100 kilograms) in the years 1971 and 1972.

He also competed in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. He finished the Greco-Roman tournament with no wins.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Tsuruta after winning the AWA World Heavyweight Championship, circa 1984

Scouted by AJPW promoter Giant Baba, he was sent to the local Amarillo, Texas, promotion in the U.S. to train as a pro under Dory Funk Jr. Known as "Tommy Tsuruta", he worked in several major NWA territories including Detroit, St. Louis, and Florida as well as West Texas. He was among the first Japanese wrestlers to be cheered by an American crowd, due to his hard work ethic and wrestling ability. The name "Jumbo" was given to him by a fan contest in Japan to replace his given name, which was seen as too feminine. He defeated Nick Bockwinkel on February 23, 1984, to win the AWA World Heavyweight Championship in Tokyo, Japan. He would lose the title to Rick Martel on May 13, 1984, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Tsuruta and Yoshiaki Yatsu became the first World Tag Team Champions on June 10, 1988.

During his 26-year career, he fought in 3,329 matches.[1] Some of his most notable opponents include Stan Hansen, Billy Robinson, The Destroyer, Bruiser Brody, Genichiro Tenryu, Abdullah the Butcher, Terry Funk, Dory Funk Jr., Mitsuharu Misawa, Harley Race, Verne Gagne, Rick Martel, Riki Choshu, Jack Brisco, Ric Flair, and Nick Bockwinkel. Tsuruta was the first Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion (unifying the Pacific Wrestling Federation, NWA United National, and NWA International Heavyweight titles), defeating Stan Hansen on April 18, 1989, in Tokyo.

In 1992, he completed the October "Giant Series" tour before disappearing from the company for almost a year due to Hepatitis C.[2] For the rest of his career, he participated mostly in comedic (i.e. exhibition) six-man tag team matches; he frequently teamed with Baba and old rival Rusher Kimura in matches against teams which included Masanobu Fuchi, Haruka Eigen, and other old-timers. Tsuruta's last match was on September 11, 1998 in a six man tag. He announced his retirement on February 20, 1999, and held a ceremony on March 6, 1999.

Post-retirement and death[edit]

Four days after Tsuruta's retirement, he moved with his family to the United States to be a visiting researcher at the University of Portland in Oregon. Tsuruta had a bachelor's degree in political science and earned a master's degree in coaching in 1997, later becoming a part-time instructor in physical training at his old University.

His health deteriorated, however, as he had been diagnosed with Hepatitis B which eventually turned to full blown liver cancer as well as cirrhosis of the liver, and by the end of the year he was back in Japan. Due to strict laws over organ donation in Japan, meaning only relatives with matching blood types can donate, Tsuruta had to try and find a donor elsewhere. In April 2000, he left for Australia in search of a liver donor, and two months later, a donor was found in Manila in the Philippines. Tsuruta underwent surgery on May 13, but during the liver transplant he began bleeding uncontrollably, and died at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City, Philippines on May 13, 2000, from complications of the liver transplant at the age of 49.

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "View from the Rising Sun by Masanori Horie--Jumbo Tsuruta-1951-2000". Archived from the original on 2008-01-05. Retrieved 2008-11-03.
  2. ^ Meltzer, Dave (2020). The Wrestling Observer Yearbook '93: The Year of Major Beginnings and Major Endings. Titan Insider Press. p. 148.
  3. ^ "Misc. All Japan Events".
  4. ^ "Reference at www.cagematch.net".
  5. ^ "Reference at www.cagematch.net".
  6. ^ "Reference at www.cagematch.net".
  7. ^ "PUROLOVE.com".
  8. ^ "Reference at www.cagematch.net".
  9. ^ "PUROLOVE.com".
  10. ^ "PUROLOVE.com".
  11. ^ "Reference at www.cagematch.net".
  12. ^ "Reference at www.cagematch.net".
  13. ^ "PUROLOVE.com".
  14. ^ "Reference at www.cagematch.net".
  15. ^ "Reference at www.cagematch.net".
  16. ^ "Reference at www.cagematch.net".
  17. ^ a b c "Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Top 100 Tag Teams of the PWI Years". Archived from the original on 2008-06-16. Wrestling Information Archive retrieved March 16, 2019
  18. ^ Oliver, Greg (2014-11-26). "Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2015 announced". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 2014-11-28.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i "The Great Hisa's Puroresu Dojo: Puroresu Awards: 1980s". Puroresu Dojo.
  20. ^ a b "The Great Hisa's Puroresu Dojo: Puroresu Awards: 1990s". Puroresu Dojo.
  21. ^ a b c d e f "The Great Hisa's Puroresu Dojo: Puroresu Awards: 1970s". Puroresu Dojo.
  22. ^ "The Great Hisa's Puroresu Dojo : Puroresu Awards: 2000s". Puroresu Dojo.

External links[edit]