One of the most infamous WWE villains of yore has suddenly passed away in his home country of Japan.
According to an English translation of Hochi Sports, Masashi Ozawa — better known stateside by his ring moniker of “Killer Khan” — lost consciousness at a restaurant in Tokyo before being rushed to a hospital on Friday.
Ozawa died of a ruptured artery. He was 76 years old.
When Ozawa came out West to ply his trade after a successful early career in Japan, he took on the identity of a Mongolian “assassin.”
In 1980, he made his debut in the WWE (then known as the World Wrestling Federation) as “Killer Khan” and was swiftly thrust into a high-profile feud with one of the company’s biggest — literally — stars, Andre the Giant.
Pro wrestling fans, who largely still believed the sport was real and not scripted, witnessed Khan “break” Andre’s ankle.
As explained by pro wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, that was a much-needed ruse to write Andre off for a bit because he had legitimately broken his ankle — in a freak accident, not in the ring.
Very sorry to hear about the death of Killer Khan due to a ruptured artery. Will have a major story on him this week. Best known for breaking Andre’s ankle (which was a storyline cover for a real injury) leading to one of the biggest feuds of Andre’s career. Had some of the…
— Dave Meltzer (@davemeltzerWON) December 30, 2023
Andre and Khan clashed in an infamous “Mongolian stretcher match” in 1981, which was lauded at the time as a violent spectacle.
From there, Khan would move on to feud with then-WWE champion and face of the company Hulk Hogan.
Eventually, the legendary “heel” (villain in industry parlance) returned to Japan for another run with New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Khan’s unique style of wrestling is emulated by a number of professional wrestlers today.
Ozawa retired from pro wrestling in 1987 and opened several bars and restaurants in Tokyo, according to NJPW.
Hochi Sports reported that he is survived by “an American wife and child, but they have been living separately for a long time.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.