WATCH: 50 years since Kendo hit ring

Staffordshire | | Published:

He was one of Britain's most recognisable wrestlers, captivating the world in the 70s with his brand of mystical, masked wrestling on ITV's World of Sport.

Now the masked Japanese samurai Kendo Nagasaki is celebrating the 50 year anniversary of his grappling debut, which took place at Willenhall Baths against 'Jumping' Jim Hussey.

The wrestler will host an intimate event for specially chosen fans at his Buddhist retreat in Staffordshire.

The grappler, who has never publicly spoken, will also release a movie on the evening of November 13, which follows him on the day of his last ever wrestling match at Wolverhampton Civic Hall and will also give an insight into his life.

Kendo's spokesperson, Atlantis Chronos Goth, said: "Wolverhampton can be described as having a very special place in Kendo's heart.

"He lived here for ten years and his first ever professional wrestling bout was just down the road in Willenhall.

A poster from his match with Big Daddy.

"Kendo chose the Wolves Civic for his spectacular ceremonial unmasking in 1977 and the Wolves Civic was also the venue for Kendo's last ever professional match, in 2008."

Fourteen million fans tuned in to see the wrestler – known for his Japanese samurai attire – unmasked at Wolverhampton Civic Hall back in 1977.


Now 50 will have the opportunity to celebrate at the retreat, where they will share their experiences of the wrestler in action.

Atlantis said: "All those attending the event could be described as Kendo's most ardent fans, and, as many of them have followed him for many decades, this celebration is also for them.

"They will also participate in dedicating a newly-planted cherry tree orchard, each of the 50 trees lit by a single candle and celebrating a year each of Nagasaki's mystical influence.

"They can also join in with a special ceremony where sticks bearing their hopes and wishes are burned to release them to the deities of nature."


Since retiring from the ring six years ago, Kendo – real name Peter Thornley – has been focusing his energy on faith healing, something which Atlantis tells us has achieved 'spectacular results'.

She said: "During the 1970s, Kendo gained a reputation for faith healing.

"He was often asked about how to succeed, both personally and professionally, and this is an aspect of something he was most concerned about – passing-on the secrets to others.

"Kendo has been active as a healer, mentor, and motivator since the 70s. He has always sought to share personal empowerment; this work continues to this day and is now his main focus." Since his career began, Kendo has worn the armour of the Japanese sword-sport Kendo and brandishes a samurai sword when arriving at the wrestling ring. Atlantis tells us that Kendo has indeed practised that sport, but whilst there is a man behind Nagasaki's mask, it has emerged that the man is motivated by a spirit guide from ancient Japan.

"Kendo has recently established a foundation to share enlightenment and empowerment through Buddhism.

"Kendo's ancestors were all Buddhists. Their strength came in large part from Buddhism, particularly Zen.

"Meditation has been an essential foundation to Kendo's strength, focus, and ability to think strategically, and he introduces people to it during events at his retreat. An inspiration to all those who attended his wrestling matches, Kendo also became a personal mentor to a fortunate few, who have transformed their lives."

Fifty years on from his debut match, Kendo is still influencing British wrestlers today.

Martin Zaki is the co-owner of Fight Club Pro, a Wolverhampton-based wrestling company that has been entertaining fans in the city for five years, importing some of the best wrestlers from around the world, masked and unmasked.

Nagasaki in action during his heyday

A passionate wrestling fan himself, the 34-year-old is not old enough to have seen Kendo in his prime, but his influence has inspired Martin in the years since.

He said: "Kendo is undoubtedly an inspiration to anyone involved in wrestling.

"His character was one that displayed the awe of mystique combined with great technical ability. Anyone who earns the right to represent professional wrestling on television and around the world deserves great respect."

Kendo has wrestled in Canada and Japan and remains undefeated in both countries.

His ITV debut in 1971 saw him claim victory over Wayne Bridges, cementing his name and iconic image in the minds of millions of wrestling fans.

Atlantis said: "Kendo has always sought to inspire others, to show them what they would be capable of if they follow his ways and work hard.

"This applies to all walks of life, and Kendo hopes that this example continues to inspire people everywhere, indefinitely."

Though fans cannot attend Kendo's event, they can see live wrestling action at Fight Club Pro on December 5 and 6 at the Planet Nightclub in Westbury Street, Wolverhampton.

For more information or tickets visit

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