Obituaries are never easy things to write, but writing Hana Kimura’s obituary is perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It is always a tragedy when a young life ends too soon, but in Kimura’s case, the tragedy is compounded by the fact that her death was both senseless and entirely preventable.

Kimura debuted for STARDOM in 2016 and became a firm fan favourite. As part of the Tokyo Cyber Squad stable, Kimura was bright, vibrant and exciting to watch. She never gave less than her all in the ring. As the daughter of Joshi legend Kyoku Kimura, professional wrestling was in Hana Kimura’s blood; she made her professional wrestling debut at just 8 years old, winning the DDT Ironman Heavyweight Championship in 2005.

Source: Reddit.com

She would return to the ring in 2016, after training at the Wrestle-1 Academy. During that time, she wrestled for Joshi outfits STARDOM and Sendai Girls. She was still a teenager when she made her overseas debut, wrestling for both Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling: EVE.

Hana Kimura made friends everywhere she went. Her kindness, work ethic and passion for professional wrestling were common knowledge. It’s a cliché to sing the praises of those we have lost, but in Kimura’s case, it is simply the truth. Hana Kimura was well-regarded by just about everyone she came into contact with.

Her hard work in the ring paid off. Kimura held the Artist of Stardom Championship twice; once with former Oedo Tai leader Kagetsu and her mother, Kyoko Kimura, and more recently, with Tokyo Cyber Squad team-mates Jungle Kyona and Konami. She also held the Goddess of Stardom Championship with Kagetsu. She was no slouch in singles competition either, winning the 2019 5-Star Grand Prix. It is an impressive resume for such a young professional wrestler.

At the beginning of the year, Kimura made history when she participated in the first-ever women’s match to take place at NJPW’s annual Wrestle Kingdom. Though she and Giulia ultimately lost to Arisa Hoshiki and Mayu Iwatani, it speaks volumes about her sheer talent that she was entrusted with this enormous responsibility. It is not for nothing that STARDOM chose her to represent them in this most important of events.

Later in 2020, Hana Kimura became a contestant on popular reality TV show Terrace House. As a fan of the show, I was thrilled to see her take part. She stated early on that her reason for joining was because she wanted more people to be interested in professional wrestling. She was as charming and likeable on TV as she always seemed in the ring – a truly excellent ambassador for professional wrestling. She was a bright, funny and immensely talented young woman.

Her time on Terrace House brought out the worst in people. Hana Kimura would go on to receive in excess of one hundred abusive messages each day. Many of these tweets have since been deleted. A minor conflict with a fellow contestant, as well as her half-Indonesian heritage and outgoing personality saw her targetted by people who had either forgotten or simply did not care that she was a living, breathing human being. Overwhelmed by the bullying and hatred, Hana Kimura took her own life. It was unfair, and it was senseless.

It shouldn’t take incidents like this to remind us to be decent human beings. It shouldn’t take the loss of a young woman with her entire life ahead of her to make us condemn the hatred so many of us casually spew at professional wrestlers. We should always be cognizant that the people we see on our screens are real, with real feelings, and real lives. And we should always be aware of just how badly words can hurt.

Hana Kimura passed away on 23rd May 2020. She was just 22 years old. She will be missed.

If you are having suicidal thoughts or you are worried about someone else, please get in touch with your local crisis support hotline or crisis text line. Please be kind to yourself.

Image courtesy of Getty Images.