Prior to starting his professional career in 1972, Tsuruta won the All Japan Amateur Wrestling Championship in both free-style and greco-roman divisions in 1971 and 1972 and represented Japan in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany for the 100kg greco-roman division.
Tsuruta turned pro and joined Giant Baba's All Japan Pro-Wrestling and was sent to Amarillo to be trained by the Funk family. He was so talented that he was selected as a challenger to NWA World Heavyweight Title, then held by Dory Funk Jr., on 1973/05/02 in Albaquerque, just less than three months after his debut.
After Baba stepped down from main stream in early 1980s, Tsuruta took over as the top star of the promotion. He was the first Japanese to win A.W.A. World Heavyweight title in 1984. He was the one who unified the three prestigeous heavyweight titles of All Japan and became the first unified Triple Crown heavyweight champion. Just about a month after the death of his teacher Giant Baba, Jumbo Tsuruta officially retired from professional wrestling on March 6th, 1999. After his great wrestling career, he became an assisstant professor of the University of Portland; however, due to excessive bleeding during a liver transplant operation in Phillippines, Tsuruta passed away on May 13, 2000. He will always be remembered as one of the toughest and strongest men in the history of puroresu.