Sports News

Antonio Inoki, Japanese pro-wrestler turned politician, dies aged 79

Antonio Inoki, Japanese pro-wrestler turned politician, passed away aged 79.

Antonio Inoki passed away on the 60 year anniversary of his pro-wrestling debut on Friday.

The news of his demise was shared by his company he started in 1972 was posted on Twitter.

“New Japan Pro-Wrestling is deeply saddened at the passing of our founder, Antonio Inoki. His achievements, both in professional wrestling and the global community are without parallel and will never be forgotten. Our thoughts are with Inoki’s family, friends and fans,” the statement said.

Inoki got global fame 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”.

Antonio Inoki, Japanese entertainer grew up in Brazil and later brought Japan’s pro-wrestling to its golden age in the 70s and 80s, dies at age 79. He also served 2 terms as a senator in Japan.

He entered politics in 1989 and won a seat in the upper house of Japan’s parliament. He made headlines the next year going to Iraq during the Gulf War and intervened on behalf of Japanese hostages, who were subsequently released.

The wrestler converted to Islam in 1990, and has been immensely popular in Pakistan as well.

In 1976, Inoki was challenged by Pakistani wrestler Akram aka “Akki”. He came to Pakistan for the encounter, Inoki was surprised to see nearly 50,000 spectators turn up for the spectacle at the National Stadium Karachi.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif extended condolences to Inoki’s family and the Japanese people.

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“Sad to learn about the passing of legendary Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki. I have a vivid memory of meeting him at a stadium in Lahore 10 years ago. He mesmerized a whole generation with his rare wrestling prowess. My condolences are with his family & Japanese people,” PM Shehbaz Sharif said.

The world mourns the demise of the star of the century as condolence and tributes continue to pour in on social media timelines.



Saman Siddiqui

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