One of the most influential and important figures in the history of Japanese professional wrestling, Antonio Inoki has died, aged 79.

Antonio inoki : Funeral | Cagematch | how did he die

Inoki began his professional wrestling career in the 1960s for the Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance (JWA) under the tutelage of Rikidōzan. Inoki quickly became one of the most popular stars in the history of Japanese professional wrestling.

Antonio inoki : Funeral | Cagematch | how did he die

He parlayed his wrestling career into becoming one of Japan’s most recognizable athletes, a reputation bolstered by his 1976 fight against world champion boxer Muhammad Ali – a fight that served as a predecessor to modern day mixed martial arts.

In 1995, with Ric Flair, Inoki headlined two shows in North Korea that drew 150,000 and 190,000 spectators, the highest attendances in professional wrestling history.

Inoki wrestled his final match on April 4, 1998 against Don Frye and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010.

Antonio inoki Funeral 

A popular Japanese professional wrestler and lawmaker Antonio Inoki, who faced a world boxing champion Muhammad Ali in a mixed martial arts match in 1976, has died at 79.

Inoki brought Japanese pro-wrestling to fame and pioneered mixed martial arts matches between top wrestlers and champions from other combat sports like judo, karate and boxing.

Antonio inoki : Funeral | Cagematch | how did he die

His family is yet to make funeral arrangements public.

Inoki made his pro-wrestling debut in 1960 and gave himself a ring name Antonio Inoki two years later.

With his archrival and another Japanese legend, the late Shohei “Giant” Baba, Inoki made pro-wrestling a hugely popular sport in Japan. Inoki founded the New Japan Pro-Wrestling in 1972.

He rose to global fame in the sport in 1976 when he faced Ali in a mixed martial arts match at Tokyo’s Budokan hall, a match fans remember as “the fight of the century.”


Inoki was amongst the group of professional wrestlers who were tutored in the art of hooking and shooting by the professional wrestler Karl Gotch.

Inoki named his method of fighting “strong style.” This method of wrestling (which was taught to Inoki by Gotch) borrowed heavily from professional wrestling’s original catch wrestling roots, and is one of the most important influences of modern shoot wrestling.

Antonio inoki : Funeral | Cagematch | how did he die

Inoki faced many opponents from all dominant disciplines of combat from various parts of the world, such as boxers, judoka, karateka, kung fu practitioners, sumo wrestlers and professional wrestlers. These bouts included a match with then-prominent karate competitor Everett Eddy. Eddy had previously competed in a mixed skills bout against boxer Horst Geisler, losing by knockout.

The bout with Eddy ended with the karateka knocked out by a professional wrestling powerbomb followed by a Hulk Hogan-esque leg drop. Another such match pitted Inoki against 6’7″ Kyokushin karate stylist Willie “The Bear Killer” Williams, who had allegedly fought a bear for a 1976 Japanese film entitled “The Strongest Karate 2”.

This bout ended when a doctor stopped the fight after both competitors repeatedly fell out of the ring.

How did he die 

Inoki, who was battling a rare disease called amyloidosis, died earlier Saturday, according to the New Japan Pro-Wrestling Co., of which he was the founding president. Inoki was upbeat and in good spirits, even as he was fighting the disease.

Antonio inoki : Funeral | Cagematch | how did he die

Born as Kanji Inoki in 1943 in Yokohama, just outside Tokyo, he moved to Brazil with his family when he was 13 and worked at a coffee plantation.

Inoki won local fame in shot put as a student, and debuted as a professional wrestler at 17 while on wrestling tour in Brazil where he captured the attention of Rikidozan, known as the father of Japanese pro-wrestling.

By Rishabh

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