Takeru looks set for a foray into the world of professional wrestling. The kickboxer recently signed with ONE Championship and has a bout booked in Paris next month.

But he also received what, in the world of Japanese pro wrestling, is a major honour when he was unveiled as the seventh generation Tiger Mask yesterday. It doesn’t seem that Takeru will actually be competing himself though.

In his Instagram post he states that his role as Tiger Mask is being largely symbolic. Writing in Japanese he stats that he is interested in,

Supporting children’s nurseries and supporting overseas children’s education.


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A post shared by 武尊 / Takeru (@k1takeru)

Long history

Tiger Mask is a persona that has been passed down from one Japanese pro wrestler to another since the early 1980s. It was originally inspired by a character from a manga comic.

The fifth generation Tiger Mask was none other than Ikuhisa Minowa. A legendary mixed martial artist, he is a veteran of 118 fights who has continued competing in the sport well into his 40s.

Minowa was eventually replaced by Kota Ibushi although he was referred to as Tiger Mask W rather than Tiger Mask VI and appeared to be portraying a slightly different character. The mantle has now been passed to Takeru.

Mutual respect

While the passing of the mask to Takeru seems to be a symbolic gesture it is interesting to see how much respect the kickboxer has for his pro wrestling predecessors. The 31 year old is clearly held in high regard by the older generation in Japan.

He certainly succeeded in taking combat sport to a level of popularity not seen since the Pride days with his lucrative kickboxing match with Tenshin Nasukawa. Takeru might have lost but it made both men millionaires and was a massive success at the box office.

The Tiger Mask concept has been around for nearly as long as the sport of MMA. Takeru looks set to be busy competing for ONE Championship but it will be interesting to see what he does with his new role.