WWE And NJPW Issue Statements On The Passing Of Antonio Inoki

WWE And NJPW Issue Statements On The Passing Of Antonio Inoki

WWE – NJPW Statements On Antonio Inoki – Last night news broke that Antonio Inoki had passed away at 79 years of age, ending the legacy of a man who rose to international fame as a wrestler, promoter, and politician in the industry’s long history.

Today New Japan Pro Wrestling, the promotion that Inoki founded, issued a full memoriam on his death. WWE also issued a lengthy statement acknowledging Inoki’s contributions to wrestling, which they recognized in 2010 when they inducted him into their Hall of Fame. Check out both statements below.


Antonio Inoki, founder of New Japan Pro-Wrestling, wrestler, promoter, politician and social activist, has died after a battle with amyloidosis. He was 79.

Inoki was born in Yokohama in 1943. Relocating with his family to Brazil at age 13, the promising athlete had been working on a coffee plantation when he was scouted by Rikidozan on excursion to the region and recruited into professional wrestling.

After making his debut on September 30 1960 under his birth name Kanji, his teenage years in Brazil would lead to him being renamed Antonio, with a legend being born in 1962.

In the wake of discord within the Japanese Wrestling Association following Rikidozan’s death, Inoki would depart the promotion, forming New Japan Pro-Wrestling in January 1972 before staging NJPW’s first event in Ota on March 6 that year.

As NJPW’s status grew, Inoki’s early career rival and former tag team partner Giant Baba would also become a promoter. In the face of his competition in All Japan Pro-Wrestling, Inoki would brand NJPW around the ideas of ‘Strong Style’ and ‘Fighting Spirit’. The rivalry sparked a boom in pro-wrestling that Inoki would be at the forefront of.

June 26, 1976 would see Inoki break new ground when he battled Muhammad Ali in the Nippon Budokan, a match credited with being the birth of what became mixed martial arts. From his martial arts fights, to bloody brawls with the likes of Tiger Jeet Singh, and an indomitable underdog spirit opposite the hulking Andre the Giant, Inoki blended an in ring versatility with an explosive charisma that made him the image of professional wrestling to generations both in Japan and worldwide.

Though Inoki would be active in ring until his Tokyo Dome retirement on April 4 1998, 1989 would see Inoki transition to the political arena, establishing the Sports and Peace Party and winning election into the Japanese House of Councillors on his first attempt. He would serve two terms in the Japanese Diet and was the first ever wrestler to serve in such a capacity.

Inoki would start NJPW’s 50th year celebrations on January 4 2022 with a special video message in the Tokyo Dome at the start of Wrestle Kingdom 16.

The thoughts and deepest sympathies of all at New Japan Pro-Wrestling go out to Inoki’s family, friends and fans.


WWE is saddened to learn of the passing of WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki.

One of the key figures in the history of Japanese wrestling, Antonio Inoki was among the most respected men in sports-entertainment and a bona fide legend in his homeland.

Born in Yokohama, Japan in 1943, Inoki grew into a natural in-ring competitor. The incredible squared circle figure found his greatest success in New Japan Pro Wrestling, a promotion he founded in 1972. Over the course of the next two decades, Inoki built NJPW into the most successful wrestling company in Asia. Utilizing talented Japanese competitors like Tatsumi Fujinami and Riki Choshu, innovative high-flyers like Tiger Mask and Dynamite Kid and American Superstars like Bob Backlund and Vader, the young promoter created a product that was unique, influential and far ahead of its time. In addition to running the company, Inoki himself was one of the top stars in NJPW, carrying the championship and battling the likes of Stan Hansen, Tiger Jeet Singh and Hulk Hogan.

In his most-famous match, Inoki fought boxing legend Muhammad Ali in a rare wrestler vs. boxer match in June 26, 1976 – a contest that paved the way for the advent of Mixed Martial Arts, which would explode in popularity decades later. The bout also exemplified Inoki’s undying love and respect for professional wrestling. This passion for competition earned him the nickname “Moeru Toukon” amongst his peers, which translates to “The fighting spirit that burns.”

Inoki was also a tremendous ambassador for professional wrestling, bringing major events to places like Russia and China. And in 2010, WWE did the same by welcoming Antonio Inoki into the WWE Hall of Fame Class.

WWE offers it’s heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and fans of the squared circle legend and the wrestling world as a whole.

WWE – NJPW Statements On Antonio Inoki

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