Ex-Wrestler Antonio Inoki Remembered by 7,000 at Service

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Two people raise their arms at a farewell ceremony for the late Antonio Inoki at Ryogoku Kokugikan stadium in Sumida Ward, Tokyo, on Tuesday.

Some 7,000 people attended a farewell ceremony on Tuesday for former professional wrestler and politician Antonio Inoki, who died in October last year at 79.

The ceremony was held at Ryogoku Kokugikan arena in Sumida Ward, Tokyo.

Among the mourners were those from the pro-wrestling community as well as fans. They all said their last goodbyes to the man tied to the catchphrase “moeru tokon” (fiery fighting spirit), whose real name was Kanji Inoki.

The ceremony featured an altar inspired by his trademark red towel and a ring, as well as a large photo of a smiling Inoki.

When his theme music started playing, those in attendance erupted into calls of “Inoki!” At the ceremony’s end, everyone pumped their fists in the air, yelling Inoki’s favorite phrase, “1, 2, 3, dah!”

“He’ll be my master forever, an eternal hero,” said Tatsumi Fujinami, 69, who was Inoki’s personal assistant.

A male company employee, 57, who had been an Inoki fan since elementary school, took a day off work to attend the ceremony. “I’d like to keep to Mr. Inoki’s teaching that you should never regret your past and always look forward,” he said.