The Life & Career of Masashi “Killer Khan” Ozawa

Photo Courtesy: Braden Herrington

Masashi Ozawa, who was billed as ‘Killer Khan’ throughout most of his career, died at 76.

Ozawa was working at the bar he ran when he collapsed, with Tokyo Sports reporting he was rushed to the hospital and died due to a ruptured artery.

The future Killer Khan was born on March 6, 1947 (also the date of NJPW’s launch in 1972) in Tsubame in the Niigata Prefecture.

The performer had a significant career, coming over from Sumo, debuting for the defunct JWA in Japan in November 1971, and wrestling Kazuo Sakurada to a draw.

In 1973, he left for New Japan Pro Wrestling where he would be stationed for over a decade but did a lot of traveling and extensive territory work in the U.S.

He wrestled under his real name in his first few years in the industry before going on an excursion to Mexico as Temojin el Mongol and later, Killer Khan while working in the U.S.

Most of 1979 was spent wrestling in Florida where Khan teamed with Pak Song and became the Florida U.S. tag champions in March and lost them weeks later to Mike Graham & Steve Keirn. The two were programmed against Jack & Jerry Brisco in the territory and led to Khan having several singles matches with Jack including a Lumberjack match in June and an Asian Death Match, won by Jack that same month. Khan teamed with Don Muraco, Curtis Iaukea, and Jos LeDuc in the territory and would feud with Sweet Brown Sugar over the Florida Southern Heavyweight title.

Khan had a run in Georgia Championship Wrestling beginning in late 1979, including several matches with a young Bret Hart, and finished up with a  Judo Jacket Match against “Bullet” Bob Armstrong on Christmas night in Atlanta. Throughout the final months of 1980, he feuded with Ted DiBiase.

Khan made his debut at Madison Square Garden on December 29, 1980, losing to WWWF champion Bob Backlund in front of 19,000 fans on a card that included Antonio Inoki beating Bobby Duncum and a Texas Death Match between Ernie Ladd and Tony Atlas.

While in the WWWF, he was provided a mouthpiece in Freddie Blassie and would feud with Backlund all over the region.

His major program of his career was with Andre the Giant in 1981 where Khan was given the storyline credit of breaking Andre’s ankle in a famous angle for its time. In reality, Andre had broken his ankle while getting out of bed, but the two participants maintained the injury inside the ring was authentic and that Khan was aiming for the chest and missed, striking the ankle.

It led to the two feuding all over the Northeast with Mongolian Stretcher matches throughout the latter months of 1981.

Khan went to Stampede Wrestling in 1984, and defeated Archie “The Stomper” Gouldie for the North American title, losing the belt to Dynamite Kid in March and then a subsequent loser leaves town match where Kid sent Khan out of the territory.

His next stop was in Texas for World Class Championship Wrestling immediately following the Parade of Champions event at Texas Stadium where Kerry Von Erich won the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship. Khan feuded with Kevin Von Erich and became the promotion’s Television Champion briefly.

Throughout this time, he was affiliated with NJPW and was part of Riki Choshu’s Ishingun group but would leave with Choshu for All Japan Pro Wrestling at the beginning of 1985 and never wrestled for NJPW again.

His last major run came with the World Wrestling Federation in 1987 with Khan now managed by Mr. Fuji. Khan was paired with WWF Champion Hulk Hogan and included title matches between the two at the Meadowlands, Cow Palace, Boston Garden, Philadelphia Spectrum, Rosemont Horizon, and even the Pontiac Silverdome (which WWE ran several house shows in between 1986-88 in addition to WrestleMania 3).

Khan’s final appearance at Madison Square Garden occurred on October 16, 1987, losing to Randy Savage in front of 19,700, which was headlined by Superstar Billy Graham beating Butch Reed in a steel cage match and Graham’s final sell-out at The Garden.

Khan has the distinction of being able to state he headlined the Pontiac Silverdome with Hogan, and Khan had his final match ever in the same venue on November 29, 1987, losing to Don Muraco.

After wrestling, he got involved in running various bars and restaurants in Japan. In 2020, he was accused in a hit-and-run incident while riding his bicycle and stated that he was in a rush to get to work when he struck a woman, who suffered several injuries including a broken tooth.

Ozawa and his wife Cindy were married in 1975 with the couple having three children – Yoshiko, David, and Yukie.

Our condolences are extended to the friends and family of Masashi Ozawa.

About John Pollock 5646 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.