Tomo Ohira was 13 years old, probably 90 pounds, and fought utterly mistake-proof in Street Fighter 2. He is widely regarded as the natural of his sport. “Hands down the number one player at the time,” says Jeff Schaefer, a top fighter of the day. And then he vanished.
“His name rung out though the arcades in Southern California,” said Mike Watson, one of the greatest Street Fighter 2 champions of all time. “Everyone wanted to find Tomo, play against him.”
Great Big Story of YouTube found him and caught up with what has happened in the 25 years since. “The feeling was just incredible” Ohira says, of his competitive days. He retired, if that word is accurate, at 17. From the retelling, he was unbeatable, in an era when it was just local multiplayer, no quitting, no latency.
“When something is done, I think you should realize it, face it and let it go,” he says. He and his wife have two children (twins, boy and a girl) and when they are old enough he will give them a game pad and introduce them to Street Fighter.
The mystery adds to his glamour, Tomo Ohira really isn’t Salinger-esque recluse. He’s been found and interviewed repeatedly over the years. Here’s one from five years ago, talking about crossups, and having one done to him first.
He also gave expert instruction in Street Fighter 2, in a VHS video revealing the secrets and strengths of ever character in the roster. All of that can be viewed here. But it’s still fascinating to see the guy in present day, decades after he went out on top.