Yoshihiro Takayama’s Terrifying Injury Left Him Paralyzed For Life

Hamish Woodward

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Japanese former wrestler Yoshihiro Takayama is fondly remembered by both wrestling fans and MMA fans.

Takayama was a big star in both AJPW and Pro Wrestling Noah in the 1990s and 2000s, becoming a household name all across Japan.

The six-foot seven, heavyweight grappler was known in both disciplines for the sheer amount of punishment he could take and keep going.

It was this that endeared him to the fans, who appreciated his fighting spirit and his never-say-die attitude.

Yoshihiro Takayama after a PRIDE fight with Don Frye.

Yoshihiro Takayama won multiple championship belts during this career.

Finding gold wherever he went, he made history as the second man to win all three major championships in Japan.

He held the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and NWF Heavyweight Championship simultaneously in 2003, whilst also winning the GHC Heavyweight Championship and Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship in his career.

He also fought for the MMA company PRIDE, which became a massive success in the 1990s and 2000s.

His 2002 fight against Don Frye was named by Dave Meltzer as one of the best moments in his life.

Mine was my kids being born and getting awards, sex with people who shall be left unnamed and Frye vs. Takayama

He was the second of five men to hold all three main belts from NJPW, AJPW and NOAH, following Kensuke Sasaki in achieving the great honour.

He had a long and storied career, but it would come to a abrupt end when Yoshihiro Takayama was paralyzed performing a routine move in a regular match that would change his life forever.

Yoshihiro Takayama Was Paralyzed In 2017

Yoshihiro Takayama with rivals Don Frye and Keiji Muto

Takayama was wrestling in a match against fellow wrestler, Yasu Urano, when he attempted to perform a sunset flip.

It is a common wrestling move where a wrestler flips over an opponent and pins them to the mat.

Unfortunately, Takayama’s neck landed awkwardly on the mat, and he was immediately rendered motionless.

The Japanese star landed directly onto his head, a freak accident on a move he had done thousands of times before.

As soon as his head hit the mat, he immediately was unable to move. Doctors soon diagnosed him with a cervical spinal cord injury due to degenerative cervical spondylosis.

A paralysed Takayama in hospital with Don Frye and Keiji Muto.

Cervical spondylosis is the degeneration of the bones and disks in the neck. The degeneration meant that his neck and spine were much weaker than he thought, and he suffered a terrible spinal cord injury from a simple botch.

He was cared for by his wife and son whilst remaining bedridden. It was soon revealed that Yoshihiro Takayama was paralyzed from the neck down, unable to move his arms or legs at all.

For a man who was so active for his entire career, these was harrowing. Yoshihiro Takayama’s injury came at just 50 years old and shocked the wrestling world.

His friend and rival in the ring, Minoru Suzuki, set up a foundation for Takayama to help with his medical costs and help the family take care of him for the rest of his life.

An outpouring of support came from all across Japan to help the Takayamania charity.

Is Yoshihiro Takayama Still Paralyzed?

Unfortunately, Yoshihiro Takayama is still paralyzed from the shoulders down. He has regained the ability to breathe by himself, but he remains bedbound, unable to move his extremities.

There is some potential hope for his future. While Takayaman’s wrestling career is over for good, he still has the hope of one day moving his limbs or even walking, if one fellow former Japanese wrestler is to be remembered.

Hayabusa suffered a similar injury in 2001, breaking his neck and being paralysed during a match in FMW. He would walk to the ring in 2015 for the first time since his accident, in one of the most emotional moments in wrestling history.

Yashahiro Takayama Has Been Released From Hospital

Despite all the odds being against him, Takayama has finally been released from hospital.

On his Twitter account, the Japanese star Tweeted “I was finally discharged from hospital” (translated).

You can read about the Hayabusa injury and paralysis down below.

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