Shozo Sasahara won his Olympic gold medal in Melbourne ©UWW

Japan's oldest Olympic champion Shozo Sasahara has been hailed as "a pioneer of wrestling techniques" after his death aged 93.

Sasahara won gold at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics in the freestyle featherweight division, and later became a distinguished coach and administrator.

"He was always a leader in the sports world with ideas and actions that were ahead of the times," Japan Wrestling Federation (JWF) President Hideaki Tomiyama said in a statement.

"As a wrestler, he was adored by many people from around the world as a pioneer of techniques, it is sad not only for wrestling, but the sports world."

Sasahara became known for the use of his legs during a contest.

At the time the move was known as "Sasahara's leg scissors" and was later described as a "grapevine".

Sasahara took up judo while at school in Yamagata, and started wrestling when he enrolled at Chuo University.

He began to learn English and later found a job at one of the United States military bases in post-war Japan, where he was able to improve his linguistic skills further.

He became a keen student of wrestling and took inspiration from Shohachi Ishii - Japan's first Olympic wrestling champion in 1952.

Sasahara won the National Collegiate Championship in 1953 and also took the All-Japan title in the same year.

In 1954, when the World Championships were held in Tokyo, Sasahara defeated Olympic champion Bayram Şit of Turkey to win the gold medal.

As a result of this victory, Sasahara went to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics as favourite for gold.

He was selected to carry the Japanese flag at the Opening Ceremony and when competition began he beat Şit again.

The Japanese grappler made sure of the gold medal with victory over Joseph Mewis of Belgium.

Sasahara retired from the sport with exactly 200 victories to his name, and later became a power behind the scenes.

He was appointed performance director for the Japanese team which won five gold medals at the 1964 Olympics in Mexico.

Away from the mats he forged a business career and was said to be the first to import sports drinks into Japan, which helped him become a pioneer in sports nutrition and conditioning.

Sasahara became an administrator with the International Amateur Wrestling Federation and served as a director for 21 years.

He was also a vice-president of the organisation and led the JWF as its President from 1989 to 2003.

Other roles included vice-president of the Japanese Olympic Committee and, in 1995, he was awarded the Olympic Order in silver.

Outside of wrestling, he was credited with devising the sport of bound tennis.

When the 1998 Winter Olympics were held in Nagano, Sasahara was chosen to be Mayor of the Athletes' Village.

He suffered a stroke in 2014, but, in one of his final public appearances in 2018, he donated his Olympic gold medal to his old school.