New Japan Pro Wrestling has honored the life and legacy of Antonio Inoki, making him the lifetime chairman of the promotion.
Inoki founded the promotion in 1972 and remained on as the owner until 2005 when he sold a 51.5% controlling share of the company to Yuke’s.
Inoki died last week at the age of 79 after a battle with systemic transthyretin amyloidosis.
In a statement on New Japan’s website, it was confirmed that Inoki has been dubbed the honorary lifetime chairman of the promotion.
This declaration was made while Inoki was alive on September 1, 2022, and was due to be publicly announced on October 10.
The announcement cannot take place as previously planned due to Inoki passing, but in the statement, New Japan vowed to follow Inoki’s wishes.
“In accordance with Mr. Inoki’s wishes, all of us at New Japan Pro-Wrestling will continue to move forward and lead the professional wrestling world to the utmost of our abilities.”
Antonio Inoki may be best known to wrestling fans as the founder of NJPW and first IWGP Heavyweight Champion but he did much more outside the ring.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Inoki entered politics in 1989, when he was elected into Japan’s House of Councillors as a representative of his Sports and Peace Party.
In 1990, Inoki negotiated with Saddam Hussein, for the release of Japanese hostages before the outbreak of the Gulf War.
A series of scandals ended Inoki’s political career in 1995, but he would return to politics in Japan’s Upper House as an MP from 2013 to 2019.