Lioness Asuka is one half of Joshi Puroresu’s most successful and popular tag team, The Crush Gals. Tens of thousands of Japanese girls packed arenas to see her and her partner, Chigusa Nagayo, do battle for AJW throughout the 80’s. In the 90’s, after returning from a forced retirement, she spent time as a dominant veteran in promotions like ARSION and GAEA. However, she was not always the bold, fiercely confident woman Joshi fans have come to know. She started out as just a shy girl desperately looking to fit in. We are happy to present to you this special piece, written by Lioness Asuka herself, detailing the emotional journey that lead her to pro wrestling.
by Lioness Asuka (Translated by Pumi from Joshi Puroresu Magazine, 1987)
24 years ago, a woman called “Lioness Asuka” did not exist. There was only had Tomoko Kitamura. Little Tomoko Chan was born on 28 July, Showa 38 (1963)
When I was born,my mother said I did not look well. I was sickly didn’t have energy like other girls born on the same time. I didn’t even cry. My mother thought it was because she gave birth to me four weeks late. everyone’s worried about me, thinking that I may even die. My mother often took me to the hospital because she thought I was not like other girls and must have something wrong with my health, but the doctors never found anything.
My parents didn’t believe the doctors. They always prayed for me to be a healthy girl, but that was not enough. When I was 3 years old I had problems with my neck and had to stay in the hospital for more than half a year. My health was always better if I stayed in a shared patient room, but worse when I had in private room. Maybe I was lonely? I’m not sure.
After staying in the hospital for a long time,the doctors allow me to back home, although my health wasn’t one-hundred percent yet. This was an important point in my life. My health didn’t get any better when I stayed at home and I had to take many different medications. I suffered from side-effects from the drugs, which caused my weight to increase dramatically in a very short time. This made me feel bad and ashamed. Let me tell you more.
When I was in 1st grade my weight was equal to a 4th grade student. When I was in 6th grade, my weight was 80 Kilograms, which is more than I weigh now! Being overweight is very difficult for a girl. I didn’t want to meet people. I didn’t want to go to school and didn’t want any people to see me.
This is why I hated sports class in school. I didn’t want to wear the tight shirt and shorts. I always hid to avoid going to this class. If I had a test, I would wear jeans instead of shorts! I didn’t care if the teacher or anyone else thought I was crazy.
One day, I tried to ask myself, “Why am I never happy at school like other girls?” I couldn’t find the answer by myself. I think because I was too young to think about such things.
Do you know want to know why Lioness Asuka can’t swim? It is because when I was young I never tried to swim. Not because I hate water or because I was afraid of it, but because I didn’t want to wear swimsuit! I didn’t like my body and I swore that I would not wear a swimsuit no matter what! Now, I’m Okay with it, haha.
Okay. I think it’s time to change topic to wrestling. I’ll talk about my turning point in becoming a pro wrestler.
As I told you, I was a very big girl. My friends always said, “Hey Tomoko, I’m sure if you became a wrestler, you could be world champion!” I know my friends were only joking, but I couldn’t stand it because I hated wrestling. I never liked wrestling. I never loved wrestling! Wrestling stole time from my cartoons! I would switch the channel immediately if a wrestling program was on.
The turning point though, was when I saw a big man wrestle in a tag-team match on TV. I can’t remember his name, but he was my inspiration and first good impression of pro wrestling. I was so excited and thought I could maybe wrestle. I became a wrestling fan after that.
The main reason I wanted to become a wrestler was I wanted to remove my inferiority complex. Wrestling was the only sport where my big body was a positive. I wanted to play sports since I was young, but I didn’t dare to play with friends. In High School I secretly joined Fuji TV’s baseball team.
When I think about this, memories of tough training always come to my mind. I had to ride a bicycle for two hours from my school to a train station. I then practiced for 4 hours everyday. Some days I got back home at midnight and fell asleep without taking a bath or eating.
For wrestling, I planned to start training after I graduated from 3rd year in high school. I had to keep it secret because my parents didn’t like wrestling. Eventually, I’m not sure how, they found out. My parents asked my teacher to stop me from wrestling. So I had to continue playing baseball with a broken heart.
Here is the second turning point is coming! My baseball team had problems and decide to close! I was free! But before I could train as a wrestler, I had to make my parents happy. I played volleyball during 4th year in high-school. I was very good at volleyball and played in many competitions. I thought I could have a good future in a volleyball career.
However, in spite of how good I was at volleyball, wrestling was always my goal. I decide to tell parents that I wanted to be wrestler. They still said the same thing I heard a few years ago. This time I couldn’t wait anymore. I applied for AJW anyway, without telling them.
Before the audition I decided to tell my mother and her answer was what I expected. She then said, “If you still want to be a wrestler, you have to have a talk with my teacher first.”
I was worried because I didn’t know what kind of person he was. If he had said wrestling was bad, I’m sure my mother would not allow me to do it. But thankfully, her teacher was a fan of Tatsumi Fujinami! He said ,“If you want to be a wrestler, do it!” Then my mother didn’t have any reason to stop me. I went to AJW with confidence and passed the audition!
This was the beginning of my legacy. The legendary Lioness Asuka!