According to his management, former Japanese professional wrestler Antonio Inoki passed away at 79 years of age.
Inoki, one of Japan’s most well-known wrestlers, notably faced up against Muhammad Ali in a mixed martial arts fight match in 1976.
Inoki started the New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), a business that promotes Japanese wrestling, in 1972. The NJPW tweeted on Saturday that it was “deeply heartbroken” by the demise of Inoki.
“The group expresses sympathy to Inoki’s family, friends, and fans.” The post further stated that, “His contributions to both the global community and professional wrestling are unparalleled and will always be remembered.”
South of Tokyo, in the city of Yokohama, on February 20, 1943, Kanji Inoki was born. According to the NJPW release, Inoki’s family moved to Brazil when he was 13 years old. He was scouted by his mentor and professional wrestler Rikidozan, who he met in Brazil.
Following his debut in 1960, Inoki developed to become one of the world’s most well-known wrestlers after rising to stardom. Inoki competed against Ali in a match that was a rare occurrence for a wrestler and a boxer. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) claims, “It opened the door for Mixed Martial Arts, which would subsequently experience a dramatic rise in popularity.”
Inoki was honored into the WWE’s hall of fame in 2010.
Inoki was the first athlete in his field to enter politics and was chosen to serve in Japan’s national assembly’s upper house both in 1989 and 2013, according to the country’s official broadcaster NHK.
NHK said he traveled to North Korea frequently as a politician to foster better ties between Pyongyang and Tokyo. Additionally, to use sport to promote peace.
He organized a professional wrestling match in Pyongyang in 2014 that featured wrestlers from the United States. This venture took place while Japan and North Korea’s ties were in the midst of conflict about the kidnappings of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.
Tug-of-war and arm-wrestling matches between the performers in the show and the citizens of Pyongyang were featured at the event. Bob “The Beast” Sapp, a former NFL player, was also there. CNN was invited to the event.
Before his passing, Inoki struggled with amyloidosis, a rare condition that affects the body’s organs.
Also read about wrestler Japanese Wrestler Uses Powerful Butt to Smash Guinness World Record for Balloon Popping