The Death of Hiromitsu Gompei Is Japan’s Darkest Secret

Hamish Woodward

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Hiromitsu Gompei was tragically killed in 1995 while training in the New Japan Dojo, in one of the most mysterious deaths in wrestling history. New Japan Pro Wrestling remain tight-lipped on the true reasons behind his death, and it remains one of the darkest secrets in Japanese wrestling today.

Little is known about Hiromitsu Gompei. We know that he was a young athlete who was signed to NJPW by Hiroshi Hase, and was a collegiate champion in Japan. Hase was a big star for New Japan, and managed to convince Gompei’s parents to let him sign for NJPW and become one of their “Young Lions” (trainee wrestlers), even putting his own reputation on the lion to guarantee his safety.

Obviously, that was one promise he was not able to keep.

Hiromitsu Gompei’s Death

During a training session in the New Japan Pro Wrestling Dojo in 1995, Hiromitsu Gompei suffered severe head trauma that eventually killed him.

After being punished by Kensuke Sasaki for not performing the tasks set by the trainers, Gompei suffered head injuries that would kill him just four-years later, at the age of 22.

While New Japan Pro Wrestling have never provided the true details surrounding Hiromitsu Gompei’s death, we do have some accounts from trainees at the time to help us paint a picture about the situation.

In the book “Ring of Hell“, a book detailing Chris Benoit’s career and ultimately his death at his own hands in 2007, Matthew Randazzo,

During a training exercise four days before Gompei’s death, Kensuke Sasaki was not happy with the level of effort being put in by the 22-year-old trainee. While details are scarce, anonymous wrestlers gave Randazzo some information about what happened that day.

Allegedly, Kensuke Sasaki was furious at Gompei’s performance during a training exercise, which was compounded by a visit that day from the legendary Japanese wrestler Riki Choshu.

Choshu himself actually trained Sasaki, and any poor performances by trainees in the dojo came across as a failure by Sasiki and nobody else. Given how crucial the concept of “respect” is in Japanese culture, it is easy to see why this was a big deal to the Dojo’s trainer.

Riki Chosu teamed with Kensuke Sasaki in New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Now, the rest of the details of what happened are sketchy, and differ from person to person. Some claim that Sakaki inflicted some form of violence on Gompei, causing a bleed in the brain that led to his death four days later.

However, other’s claim that Sasiki was nowhere near the ring at the time, and the injury was caused either by another trainer, another wrestler or something else entirely.

Scott Norton claimed a number of wrestlers killed Gompei

In a shoot interview with RF Video, former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Scott Norton spoke about the death of Hiromitsu Gompei.

He claimed that it was not Sasaki who killed him, nor Hiroshi Hase as the interview tried to allude to. Instead, Norton claimed that a number of wrestlers took liberties with the young wrestler, applying wrestling holds and causing him immense pain in the ring, as punishment.

“It was a nasty thing and peoples heads should have rolled. Some people should have him on their conscience.” Scott Norton said in his shoot interview.

Nobody was ever convicted for the death of the young trainee. Riki Chosu threw the blame at the feet of Hiroshi Hase, who had vouched for the safety of Gompei when he first convinced his parents to let him train in the NJPW.

Hase resigned in disgust after the findings of the investigation, as nobody was ever tried as the murderer of the young wrestler.

He left to join All Japan Pro Wrestling, as well as to focus on his own political career in Japan. As of 2023, Hiromitsu Gompei’s death remains unresolved, and nobody has ever faced trial for the 22-year-old’s untimely passing.

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