Harley Saito, who was one of the top name woman wrestlers of the 90s, passed away today in a Tokyo hospital while undergoing surgery to remove uterine fibroids.
Saito had just turned 48 three days ago.
Born Sayori Saito, she took the name Harley after Harley Race.
Saito started her career as a teenager in 1986 with the JWP promotion, the rival to the dominant All Japan women’s group. She was part of the original group that left JWP in 1992 to form LLPW, where she was one of the top stars, with two different one-year runs as LLPW world champion.
She also competed on the 1992 LPWA PPV in Rochester, MN, the Super Ladies Showdown, winning an eight-woman tournament for the LPWA Japanese women’s championship.
She regularly worked with and against Shinobu Kandori, the current Japanese politician who is facing Gabi Garcia on the Rizin show later this month. On April 2nd, 1995, she was part of the 13-promotion show put on by Weekly Pro Wrestling before 50,000 fans at the Tokyo Dome, in what was billed as a UFC rules fight, where she lost to Kandori quickly via ground and pound.
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She originally retired in 2010, but returned and had her final match at a retirement show on December 29th, 2012.