Wrestle Talk: RIP Antonio Inoki
Today, we take a look and say our goodbyes to an iconic Japanese wrestler “Antonio Inoki.” Antonio passed away last Friday at the age of 79. He was the founder of New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) which is the top wrestling promotion in Japan and has a rabid following in many different countries, including here in the United States.
Antonio Inoki is also known for perhaps having the highest profile mixed rules wrestling match that has been ever booked. When he challenged Boxing Legend Muhammad Ali on June 26, 1976, it not only drew thousands but drew many eyes to the sport of professional wrestling. The match was broadcast worldwide and televised live in New York City at the old Shea Stadium. In 1972, Antonio Inoki started New Japan Pro Wrestling and its training dojo, where young wrestlers could train to become future stars of the promotion. At that time, Antonio was NJPW’s biggest star and draw, and he brought in many top talents from the United States like Bruiser Brody, Terry Funk, Dory Funk and Hulk Hogan, to name the few. Antonio is also known for setting the vision of blending Mixed Martial Arts with professional wrestling. He took on Brazilian MMA Legend Renzo Gracie, in an exhibition match in front of 40,000 people in Osaka, Japan.
Antonio Inoki was an innovator and many superstars from both the wrestling and MMA world owe their training to him. Antonio was not just a top superstar in Japan. He was also a politician, being elected to the Japanese House of Councilors in 1989, and reelected back into Japanese Government from 2013 to 2019. Antonio gave so much of himself and was always known as a gentleman. We at Wrestle Talk offer the Inkoi family and friends our deepest condolences.
The Question of the Week comes from David S. in Rockaway Park and he asked, “I have been a fan of the old wrestling promotions and I always wondered what happened to Hillbilly Jim? He was one of my favorites.” Hi David, I can say that Hillbilly Jim is doing well from all reports. He was last seen hosting his own show on Sirius XM called “Hillbilly Jim’s Moonshine Matinee,” which was a weekly show that featured southern rock. He is a WWE Hall of Famer and that’s pretty much all I currently have on him. I hope that helps, David.
Keep sending those questions in to email@example.com and have a great weekend!