Wrestler, Promoter Antonio Inoki Elected to Upper House of Japanese Parliament

By Mike Whitman Jul 24, 2013



Former professional wrestler Antonio Inoki, who famously fought then-heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali in 1976, has been elected to Japan’s upper house of legislators.

Inoki was elected to the House of Councillors as a member of the Japan Restoration Party after spending nearly two decades away from politics. The New Japan Pro Wrestling founder was previously elected in 1989 as a member of the defunct Sports and Peace party but lost his seat in 1995.

Likely the most famous professional wrestler Japan has ever produced, Inoki fought Ali to a draw in their cross-discipline match 37 years ago, which many view as a pioneering step toward the eventual creation of mixed martial arts.

The Japanese grappler made his in-ring debut in 1960 and went on to found NJPW in 1972, later creating the Inoki Genome Federation, which has hosted several mixed martial arts bouts in addition to its pro wrestling matches. Inoki was elected to the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2010, making him the first Japanese native to receive the honor.

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