Antonio Inoki Passes Away

Japanese professional wrestler, Antonio Inoki, has passed away at the age of 79 years. Inoki, whose real name was Kanji Inoki, was a twelve-time professional wrestling world champion and was the first Asian WWF Heavyweight Champion. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010.

Inoki was born in Yokohama, Japan in 1943 and found success in the wrestling ring with New Japan Pro Wrestling, a promotion he founded in 1972. Over the course of the next two decades, Inoki built NJPW into the most successful wrestling company in Asia. In addition to running the company, Inoki himself was one of the top stars in NJPW, carrying the championship and battling the likes of Stan Hansen, Tiger Jeet Singh and Hulk Hogan.

His most notable match was when Inoki fought boxing legend Muhammad Ali in a rare wrestler vs boxer match on June 26, 1976. This contest then paved the way for the advent of Mixed Martial Arts. Inoki was passionate about professional wrestling and it was that love for the sport that earned him the nickname, “Moeru Toukon” amongst his peers (translation: the fighting spirit that burns).

Inoki was also a huge ambassador for professional wrestling, bringing major events to places like Russia and China.