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Category: MMA

MMA Hall of Fame: Antonio Inoki

Written on March 26, 2011 by Markham Mencken

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Another early MMA star is featured in Fighting Insider's 'MMA Hall of Fame' this week. Know more about Antonio Inoki at the article below.

Born as Kanji Inoki on February 20, 1943, was known as the founder of Kansuiryu Karate, and former owner of New Japan Pro Wrestling before selling his controlling shares in the promotion to Yukes.

He came from an affluent family in Yokohama, Japan. Being the second youngest of the seven boys and four girls, Antonio Inoki learned Karate from his older brother while in 6th grade. Then during the post-war years, the Inoki family fell on hard times. In 1957, Antonio Inoki – together with his mother, siblings and grandfather – emigrated to Brazil.

At the age of 17, Antonio Inoki met Rikidozan and went back to Japan as his disciple for the Japanese Wrestling Association. When Rikidozan died, he worked under his much taller dojo classmate, Giant Baba, until he joined the original Tokyo Pro Wrestling in 1966. In late 1971, he was fired from the Japanese Wrestling Association in an attempt to over take the promotion. Hence, Antonio Inoki founded the New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1972.

During his career, Antonio Inoki was one of the professional wrestlers who were taught the art of hooking and shooting by Karl Gotch. He then went on to stage a couple of matches against champions of various martial art disciplines. In addition to this, he also organized events like NPJW Ultimate Crush and Jungle Fight. The events showcase traditional professional wrestling and matches on the same card.

Eventually, his retirement from professional wrestling came while staging the Final Countdown series that ran from 1994 to 1998. The Final Countdown relieves Antonio Inoki’s MMA matches under professional wrestling rules, as well as rematch of some of his well-known wrestling bouts.

Cauliflower Alley Club
Lou Thesz Award (2004)

Japan Wrestling Association
NWA International Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Shohei Baba
JWA All Asia Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Michiaki Yoshimura (2) and Kintaro Ohki (1)
11th World Big League
1st and 2nd World Tag League (with Kantaro Hoshino and Seiji Sakaguchi)

National Wrestling Federation
NWF Heavyweight Championship (4 times)

New Japan Pro Wrestling
IWGP Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
NWA North American Tag Team Championship (Los Angeles/Japan version) (1 time) – with Seiji Sakaguchi
WWF World Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
NJPW IWGP League (1984, 1986)
NJPW Japan Cup Tag Team League (1986) with Yoshiaki Fujiwara
NJPW MSG League (1978–1981)
NJPW MSG Tag League (1980) with Bob Backlund
NJPW MSG Tag League (1982) with Hulk Hogan
NJPW MSG Tag League (1983) with Hulk Hogan
NJPW MSG Tag League (1984) with Tatsumi Fujinami
NJPW World League (1974, 1975)
Greatest Wrestlers (Class of 2007)

NWA Big Time Wrestling
NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
NWA World Tag Team Championship (Texas version) (1 time) – with Duke Keomuka

NWA Hollywood Wrestling
NWA North American Tag Team Championship (Los Angeles/Japan version) (1 time) – with Seiji Sakaguchi
NWA United National Championship (1 time)

NWA Mid-America
NWA World Tag Team Championship (Mid-America version) (1 time) – with Hiro Matsuda

Professional Wrestling and Museum
Class of 2009 (International)

World Championship Wrestling
WCW Hall of Fame (Class of 1995)

World Wide Wrestling Federation/Entertainment
WWF Heavyweight Championship (1 time)*
WWWF World Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2010)

Universal Wrestling Association
UWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)

Wrestling Observer Newsletter
Promoter of the Year (2001)
Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)

* = Antonio Inoki’s Heavyweight Championship was not official recognized by WWE.


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