Rocky Aoki was a Japanese-American amateur wrestler and restaurateur who had a net worth of $40 million at the time of his death in 2008. He was best known as the founder of the Japanese cuisine restaurant company Benihana, which owns or franchises over 100 franchises across the globe.
Aoki also garnered infamy in 1998 when he was charged with insider trading related to Spectrum Information Technologies, Inc.
Early Life and Wrestling
Rocky Aoki, whose real name was Hiroaki Aoki, was born on October 9, 1938 in Tokyo, Japan to parents Yunosuke and Katsu. As a youth, he formed a rock band with his friends called Rowdy Sounds; he later decided to forgo music for a career in athletics. Aoki went on to attend Keio University, where he competed in karate, wrestling, and track and field. However, he was eventually expelled for fighting. As a wrestler, Aoki qualified for the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, but chose not to compete. He was subsequently offered wrestling scholarships from a number of American colleges, and ended up enrolling at Springfield College in Massachusetts. Aoki later transferred to CW Post College in Long Island, New York. In the United States, he became a minor wrestling sensation, winning the flyweight title in three consecutive years: 1962, 1963, and 1964. Aoki was later inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1995.