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Antonio Inoki profile

Birth name:Kanji Inoki
Born February 20, 1943, in Tsurumi Ward, Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture

Antonio’s family ran a coal wholesale business. He moved to Brazil with the family at the age of 13 when the post-war energy focus shifted from coal to oil.
He used to go out harvesting coffee beans at 5 a.m. before winning a local tournament and displaying outstanding ability in shot putting, which made him well known locally.

Martial Artist
To demonstrate his supreme strength across a wide range of combat techniques, Inoki constantly took on fighters in various martial arts. Opponents included martial arts hero Akram Pehlwan and Willie Williams – a karate stylist also known as The Bear Killer. Inoki went on to found his own school of mixed martial arts.

Inoki’s best-known bout was against WBC/WBA heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. The fight was relayed all over the world, and was a global sensation. By prior agreement, Inoki was prohibited from engaging in tackles, throws, and joint locks. At the opening bell, he threw a flying kick and then stayed down on the canvas. His game plan was to sweep Ali’s legs and bring him down, but he failed. In each round Inoki stayed low and intensively worked at Ali’s lower half. Ali was irritated by Inoki’s mode of attack, and verbally provoked him to try to make him stand.

Inoki stood and faced Ali several times, but always reverted to attacking his legs from the canvas. Despite accumulating damage from the kicks, Ali continued dancing around the ring with his famed light step. Neither fighter was able to deliver a decisive blow during the 15 three-minute rounds, and the bout ended in a draw. Ali’s thigh swelled alarmingly after the match as a result of Inoki’s kicks, which led to blood clots that affected his mobility. Five years later, this was a major factor in Ali’s decision to retire.

In 1989, under the banner of International Peace Through Sports, Inoki formed the Sports and Peace Party. Elected to the Japanese House of Councillors in 1989 after collecting 993,989 votes in the proportional representation system, he became the first-ever professional wrestler in the Diet. On August 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein led Iraq to attack and invade Kuwait, triggering the Gulf War. Iraq was criticized by Japan and other countries at the United Nations, and sanctions were imposed. A total of 41 Japanese nationals who had been in Kuwait were taken to Iraq. A ban on their leaving the country effectively made them hostages there.

Inoki announced plans to hold a World Peace Festival in Iraq on December 1. Against the advice of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he flew from Turkey to Baghdad with 46 relatives of the Japanese hostages and other related parties in a Turkish passenger jet chartered at his own expense. The Japanese people in Iraq and all hostages in Kuwait were subsequently released.
On June 5, 2013, Inoki announced that he would again run for a proportional representation seat in the House of Councillors, this time as a member of the Japan Restoration Party. When the ballots were counted six weeks later on July 21, Inoki was elected with 356,606 votes – the highest number for any member of his party. Thus, Inoki returned to the Diet after 18 years away.