Antonio Inoki by Rob Schamberger © 2012 Rob. All rights reserved.

Antonio Inoki

Antonio Inoki painting by Rob Schamberger

Acrylic and spray paint on 24″ x 24″ wood

Antonio Inoki is one of the biggest names in the history of professional wrestling. The Japanese wrestler found fame around the world, while working primarily in his native country for the Japan Wrestling Association, Tokyo Pro Wrestling, and as a founder of New Japan Pro Wrestling. He was also one of the pioneers of mixed martial arts, working against boxers, judoka, karateka, kung fu practitioners, sumo wrestlers and other wrestlers. His most notorious of these MMA matches was against the legendary Muhammad Ali in a controversial match ending with a draw.

Holding world titles and tag titles for numerous promotions, Inoki continued his knack for controversy when he defeated Bob Backlund for the WWF title on November 30, 1979. The two met for a rematch on December 6, seeing Backlund win after an interference by Tiger Jeet Singh, leading to the rematch being declared a no contest. Inoki refused to accept the title, leaving it vacated. Due to Inoki’s refusal, his title reign is not officially recognized by the WWE in its history, although he has received their ultimate honor by being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2010.

One of Inoki’s greatest achievements was being heavily involved in the wrestling exhibition put on by Japan and North Korea in Pyongyang, the first of its kind, seeing him compete in the main event against Ric Flair. This trip was especially important to Inoki, as he was able to visit the birthplace of his mentor Rikidozan.

In America, Inoki is also well-known to a generation of moviegoers as himself in The Bad News Bears Go to Japan, where he has a match against Tony Curtis! (Side note: Curtis’ stunt double was Hector Guerrero, current TNA Impact Spanish announcer and former Gobbledygooker!)

World Champion. Promoter. MMA fighter. Peace ambassador. Movie star. Inoki.

One Trackback

  1. By WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2010: Antonio Inoki | WWE Hall of Fame Blog 3 Apr ’13 at 10:48 pm

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