Professional Wrestling in Japan — Media and Message

Lee Austin Thompson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This paper documents the important role of Western-style professional wrestling in the popular culture of Japan, focusing on the early years in which it was established, 1953-1963. These were also the years in which television achieved its phenomenal growth, and the symbiotic relationship between the “sport” and the medium is explored. The star of professional wrestling in Japan during these years was the former sumo wrestler Rikidôzan. He faced a steady stream of foreign wrestlers, mainly from America. The fact that he was actually of Korean origins was a well kept secret. It is shown that the great popularity of professional wrestling in Japan is related to its embracing of a powerful theme: Japan against the world, the West, America.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-81
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Review for the Sociology of Sport
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1986 Mar
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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