Antonio Inoki dies at 79

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Antonio Inoki kicks Muhammad Ali in the leg from the ground at a Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, in June 1976.

The Yokohama native had been battling a rare disease called cardiac amyloidosis, which he was diagnosed with in 2019.

The popular pro wrestler, whose real name was Kanji Inoki, also served as a House of Councillors member for two terms.

Inoki was scouted in 1960 by the late wrestler Rikidozan, and he made his professional debut at 17.

In 1976, Inoki faced the then world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali in a mixed martial arts exhibition fight billed as the “War of the Worlds.”

Inoki launched the Sports & Peace Party in 1989 and was elected to the upper house in the same year. In the following year, he visited Iraq to negotiate the release of Japanese hostages held in the country.