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Antonio Inoki, famed combat sports trailblazer, dies at 79 - ESPN

Antonio Inoki, famed combat sports trailblazer, dies at 79 - ESPN

Antonio Inoki, famed combat sports trailblazer, dies at 79 - ESPN
Oct 01, 2022 1 min, 25 secs

Antonio Inoki, a combat sports trailblazer, influential politician and larger-than-life figure in his native Japan, died Friday at the age of 79.

Though he touched many parts of Japanese culture in his lifetime and became one of the most famous people in the country, Inoki was most known for his work in combat sports as a pro wrestler, promoter and fighter -- most notably, his bout with Muhammad Ali.

Inoki had a background in amateur wrestling and judo and trained under catch wrestler Karl Gotch, developing a methodology of fighting he called "strong style." Ali, of course, was one of the top boxers in the world at the time and incredibly well-known globally.

Inoki ended in a draw, but Inoki spent most of the 15-round contest on his back, kicking at Ali's legs and landing those kicks more than 100 times.

Inoki several times as an influence on him with regards to the crossover bout with Mayweather.

"Inoki ended up on top and the referee separated it straight away.

If that moment in time was to let go for five more seconds, 10 more seconds, Inoki would have wrapped around his neck or his arm or a limb and the whole face of the combat world would have changed right there and then.".

In a current combat sports landscape where it has become common for boxers to fight MMA fighters and pro wrestlers to fight YouTubers and so on and so forth, Ali vs.

Inoki," Rizin promoter and Pride founder Nobuyuki Sakakibara wrote in an Instagram post.

"The 'Toukon' spirit has been inherited to RIZIN from PRIDE.

During that time period, Inoki opened up a training academy for MMA fighters and pro wrestlers in Los Angeles called Inoki Dojo.


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