Hana Kimura was extraordinary. I’ve thought a lot about how to describe her, but it’s the word I keep coming back to. She walked into a room, and she owned it, more charisma in one defiantly raised middle finger than most have in their entire bodies. I was lucky enough to see her live in Shinkiba 1st Ring and the Tokyo Dome, two buildings that couldn’t be more different, but she dominated both. At the age of 22, Hana looked like someone who could do whatever she wanted, whether that be a long career in wrestling or the joshi classic of an early retirement and another life. That’s what should have happened.
Outside of the ring, the stories told of Hana paint a very different picture. That charisma with its middle fingers and bluster hid a shy person with a huge heart. The tributes are all over Twitter, from her taking that extra step with fans to the natural connection she seemed to have with every young girl who adored her, they prove that Hana Kimura was good. She shone brightly, lighting up those around her and making them better. To have any knowledge of her was to fall a little bit in love with her.
And that’s where I come in, as a fan who fell that little bit in love. Hana was one of my favourites, and while I appreciate that my list of favourites is about twenty pages long, she was near the top. A while ago, I stopped judging wrestlers by their technical ability and how they structure a match and instead by how often they make me smile, and Hana always made me smile. Which isn’t to say she couldn’t wrestle, every time Kimura stepped foot in that ring, she got a little bit better. Last year’s 5 Star Grand Prix was her tournament, the confidence flowing through her as she got the chance to go out and prove what she could do. It should have been the start of her pushing towards the top, of becoming the star she was destined to be.
Unfortunately, she won’t. She won’t because Hana Kimura’s life was taken away from her, not by illness or by accident, but at the hands of other people, people who tore her down and made her not want to wake up tomorrow. There might not have been one murderer holding that knife, but there were hundreds of them, stabbing away at her until she could face it no more. Hana Kimura’s life is not a lesson for us to learn from, she was a person who lived and breathed and loved and hurt, but fucking hell I hope someone learnt something from it. I hope someone saw what they did to her and became a better person for it because if they didn’t, it makes it all ten times worse.
I’m sorry. I want to celebrate Hana. I want to remember the person who started a faction by quoting Che Guevera and telling us that everyone is different and everyone is special. I want to remember the smile that lit up a room and listen to the stories that people are telling. It’s hard, though. It’s hard because I can’t stop crying.
Dealing with feelings isn’t my strong point, it never has been. I’m the last person to reach out for help, and I know that about myself, but maybe that makes me the perfect person for someone else to reach out to. So, if you’re sad or alone or want to talk to someone about wrestling, then please get in touch. I can’t promise anything, but I promise that I’ll try. We’ve got to try for Hana, someone who deserved so much more. She was extraordinary and I’ll miss her. We all will.
If you are alone and need help, there are numbers you can call:
Childline: 0800 1111
Samaritans: 116 123
Domestic Violence Hotline: 0808 2000 247
Mind: 0300 123 3393
Age UK: 0800 169 6565