He may have been imposing in the ring, but Japanese wrestler-turned-politician "Skull Reaper A-ji" is an underdog in the political arena. Narrowly elected to the Oita city council in February, Skull Reaper vowed to fight for education reform and improved social welfare facilities, according to The Telegraph. This week he also swore to fight a newly instated procedural technicality that got him tossed from his first city council meeting for wearing his luchador-style mask.
Skull Reaper's fellow lawmakers are enforcing a new ban on wearing hats in city council sessions, and they reportedly used the policy as grounds to restrain and remove the 44-year-old politician from a council meeting on Monday. The ban was apparently enacted not long before the meeting.
According to The Huffington Post's translation of one of Skull Reaper's tweets, the politician said that he wouldn't have had a problem with the hat ban, had it been in place earlier.
— スカルリーパーＡ-ｊｉ (@skullaji) March 12, 2013
After being thrown out, Skull Reaper stood outside the meeting in protest, Time reports. He told Japanese media that he has no plans to remove his mask, which is similar to those made famous by Mexican Lucha Libre wrestlers. The politician insisted that he's "an entirely different person" with the mask off.
Around the time of his election, Skull Reaper told Japanese media that his mask makes people feel comfortable approaching him. And if his lively Twitter account can be taken as evidence, the politician appears to excel at connecting with people.
Despite the timing of the Oita council's ban, it is unclear whether the point of order is a direct attack on Skull Reaper.
It might seem like a strange match to some, but wrestlers have run for and held political office before -- and not just in Japan, where Skull Reaper is one of several masked public servants.
In the United States, former pro-wrestler Jesse "The Body" Ventura was elected governor of Minnesota in 1999.