National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Inductee: Antonio Inoki

inoki_vs_ali

Kanji Inoki was born in Yokohama, Japan, but was raised in Brazil, where his family worked on a coffee plantation. He returned to Japan to train to be a professional wrestler under the guidance of Rikidozan, who renamed him Antonio Inoki. He became a mixed martial arts star and founded New Japan Wrestling, challenging some of the top martial artists in the world to matches.

His most famous fight came against the great Muhammad Ali on June 26, 1976, in Tokyo, and was broadcast live by satellite around the world. The fight went to a 15-round draw.

The King of Palaui, an island in the Pacific Ocean, was so impressed by the fight that he gave Inoki an island. In 1989, Inoki ran for the Japanese Congress and won. he campaigned for peace around the world, and met with Fidel Castro in Cuba and other world leaders. He began peace festivals in Iraq and North Korea.

After winning many wrestling titles, including the WWF world heavyweight crown, he retired from competition in 1998. Over 70,000 fans, including Muhammad Ali, crowded into the Tokyo Dome to see his last match.

Millions around the world look upon Antonio Inoki as both a wrestling genius and a wrestling legend.