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  • Pro wrestling legend Antonio Inoki dies at 79

Pro wrestling legend Antonio Inoki dies at 79

Japan's legendary wrestler dies. (AFP)
Japan's legendary wrestler dies. (AFP)
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01 Oct 2022 05:10:43 GMT9
01 Oct 2022 05:10:43 GMT9

 Tokyo: Legendary professional wrestler Antonio Inoki died of heart failure at his home on Saturday. He was 79.

Inoki, whose real name was Kanji Inoki, greatly contributed to creating the golden age of “puroresu,” or professional wrestling, in Japan during the country’s Showa era with his famous catch phrase “moeru tokon,” or “burning spirit.”

Inoki also worked as a lawmaker of the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the Diet, Japan’s parliament.

He was suffering systemic amyloidosis, an intractable disease.

A native of Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Inoki moved to Brazil with his family in 1957.

He entered professional wrestling in 1960 at the age of 17 after being discovered by noted wrester Rikidozan.

With his signature wrestling techniques such as the “cobra twist” and “manjigatame” holds, and the “enzuigiri” kick, Inoki created a puroresu boom with other popular wrestlers including Giant Baba and The Destroyer.

In 1972, Inoki founded New Japan Pro-Wrestling Co., promoting foreign wrestlers such as Tiger Jeet Singh. In 1976, Inoki drew heavy attention with his televised fight with American professional boxer and world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali.

In 1989, Inoki established the now-defunct Sports and Peace Party and was elected to the Upper House for the first time.

When Iraq effectively took Japanese people in the Middle East country as hostage during the 1990 Persian Gulf crisis, Inoki visited Baghdad and worked to release them.

After losing his Upper House seat in the 1995 election for the chamber, Inoki engaged in activities for goodwill between Japan and North Korea.

He was honored by North Korea in 2010.

Inoki ran in the 2013 Upper House election from Nippon Ishin no Kai, an opposition party, and won a seat in the chamber, returning to the political world for the first time in 18 years.

While in office as an Upper House member, Inoki frequently visited North Korea despite being urged not to do so by the chamber and the Japanese government.

In 2013, he was suspended from the Diet for 30 days as a penalty.

Inoki quit politics in 2019 without running in the Upper House election in the year.

After ending his career as professional wrester in 1998, Inoki engaged in activities such as organizing events, including a puroresu event in Pyongyang in 2014.

JIJI Press

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