Tomomi Tsuruta

Tomomi Tsuruta

About Tomomi Tsuruta

Tomomi Tsuruta

Tomomi Tsuruta

March 25, 1951 - May 13, 2000

Place of Birth    :   Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Also Known As    :   Jumbo Tsuruta, Tommy Tsuruta, The Terror of Yamanashi

Tomomi "Tommy" Tsuruta (鶴田 友美, Tsuruta Tomomi), 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. Tsuruta participated in many sports, such as swimming, basketball, and sumo, while attending Hikawa Senior High School in Yamanashi-shi, Yamanashi Prefecture. 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. 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. 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. He announced his retirement on February 20, 1999 and held a ceremony on March 6, 1999. 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.