NEW YORK (TR) – Former American professional wrestler The Destroyer, who garnered tremendous popularity in Japan decades ago, has died. He was 88.
Richard Beyer, who over a four-decade career wrestled under the name The Destroyer and other monikers, passed away at his home in Buffalo on Thursday, his son Kurt wrote on Facebook.
“It is with a very heavy heart to let you know that Dad — aka The Destroyer, aka Doctor X, aka Dick Beyer, aka Coach — passed away shortly past noon today. He was in bed at home, and was surrounded by all of his children and wife as he slipped peacefully away,” Kurt wrote.
The legend of the The Destroyer began in 1963, when he came to Japan to wrestle Rikidozan, who rose to immense fame by defeating foreign opponents in the immediate aftermath of World War II.
Over the next decade, the native of New York became a pop-culture icon who, in addition to squaring off against wrestling legends like Giant Baba in the ring, appeared on Japanese television variety programs.
Last year, Beyer received the esteemed Order of the Rising Sun. The former wrestler said during an interview with a Nippon News Network reporter after the ceremony that he grew up hating the Japanese, but his attitude changed upon coming to Japan. “Don’t judge what happened before; judge what [is] happening now,” he said.