Antonio Inoki passes away

Sep 30, 2022 - by James Walsh

Antonio Inoki, the founder of New Japan Pro Wrestling and former 12-time world champion, has passed away. He was 79 years old.

The news was broken by Yahoo! Japan, which states that Inoki died in his home on October 1st. He had been quite ill for years, including a battle with systemic amyloidosis.

Inoki’s wrestling career stretches back to the 1960s, where he became one of Japan’s most recognized figures. His fame took off even further in 1976 when he had an exhibition match with boxing legend Muhammad Ali, a bout that served as a predecessor to modern day mixed martial arts.

Inoki founded NJPW in 1972, a promotion that continues to thrive in the competitive wrestling industry. He would also be the very first wrestler to hold the IWGP heavyweight championship. Inoki wrestled his last match in 1998, and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010.

Aside from his legacy in the world of wrestling Inoki was a respected politician. He entered into politics in 1989 where he was elected into the Japanese House of Councillors. During his first term he successfully negotiated the release of Japanese hostages from Saddam Hussein, a feat that was accomplished shortly before the outbreak of the Gulf War.

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