Reports: Misawa dies after move

Updated: June 14, 2009, 10:12 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Japanese professional wrestling legend Mitsuharu Misawa died Saturday from an apparent heart attack after receiving a back suplex move in a match in Hiroshima, according to multiple media reports.

Misawa, 46, was taking part in a tag team match when his opponent grabbed him and took him to the mat in the common suplex move. Reports say, however, that Misawa was rendered unconscious. The match was stopped and Misawa was administered to before being taken from the arena. He was declared dead at the hospital.

Misawa was a former high school and national wrestler who gained fame in the 1980s in professional wrestling as a character called the Tiger Mask. He unmasked in 1990 and became even more popular. Misawa was named professional wrestler of the year three times.

At the time of his death, he was the founder and owner of Pro Wrestling NOAH. Many publications characterize Misawa's popularity in Japan as comparable to Hulk Hogan or The Rock in the United States.