Pro-Wrestling Legend & Founder of NJPW has passed away at 79
It’s an incredibly sad day in the world of professional wrestling as news broke via Yahoo Japan that Antonio Inoki has passed away at the age of 79.
Inoki was one of the biggest and most well respected names in the entire sport of professional wrestling. Most notably, he is the founder of New Japan Pro Wrestling and remained the owner of the company until 2005.
NJPW is the largest pro-wrestling company in Japan and has been home to some of the biggest names in wrestling throughout the years, including Kenny Omega, AJ Styles, and Jon Moxley among many others. NJPW is home to the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, one of the most prestigious world titles in professional wrestling today — Inoki was the first ever IWGP World Heavyweight Champion.
Inoki played a huge role, especially in Japan, in bringing relevance to the sport of professional wrestling. He once had an exhibition boxing-wrestling hybrid match against Muhammad Ali. Inoki was also the first Asian WWF World Champion. Although that title reign is not currently recognized by the WWE, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010.
Antonio Inoki is the definition of your favorite wrestler’s favorite wrestler. He is responsible for inspiring an entire generation of wrestlers such as Bryan Danielson and Katsuyori Shibata. Inoki also had a hand in training Akira Maeda, Shinsuke Nakamura, Keiji Muto, Riki Choshu, Bad News Allen, and many other well known wrestlers throughout his time.
There has been no cause of death released to the public as of now, but Inoki was battling health issues over the last several years. Antonio Inoki leaves behind a legacy that professional wrestlers and professional wrestling fans will be forever grateful for.