Show opponents of Muhammad Ali: mourning for wrestler Inoki

Once he was in a show fight with boxing legend Muhammad Ali in the ring, now former Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki has died. The 79-year-old, who was active in politics after his sports career, passed away on Saturday. According to the broadcaster NHK, heart failure was the cause.

The almost 1.90 m tall eccentric, born as Kanji Inoki in Yokohama, was a pioneer in mixed martial arts (MMA) in Japan. In 1976 he faced Ali in Tokyo, the fight was a farce. Inoki lay permanently on his back, offering no attack surface and kicked the champion’s calves bloodily. The fight between wrestler and boxer ended in a draw.

Appearances in the American WWF (now WWE) followed. Inoki founded a party in 1989 and was elected to the House of Lords. Before the Gulf War, he traveled to Iraq in 1990 to secure the release of Japanese hostages.

In 2017, the man, whose trademark was a red scarf, asked the government in a budget committee for an official position on extraterrestrials because he had seen a mysterious flying object on the horizon. Inoki retired from politics in 2019, and a year later he made a heart condition public.