Steph Deschamps / October 1, 2022
A famous Japanese wrestler turned parliamentarian, Antonio Inoki, died Saturday at the age of 79, Japanese media reported Saturday.
The national television channel NHK said he died of a heart attack.
From the height of 1.90 meters, Antonio Inoki was one of the pioneers of mixed martial arts in his country.
He became famous in 1976, after a fight against the boxer Mohamed Ali in Tokyo, and was a senator from 1989 to 1995. He stopped fighting in 1998.
Re-elected as a parliamentarian in 2013, he established strong personal relations with North Korea, where he visited dozens of times to try to help resolve the issue of Pyongyang’s abductions of Japanese citizens during the Cold War.
The wrestler, who said he wanted to “contribute to world peace through sport” had organized martial arts and wrestling festivals in North Korea, an opportunity for him to meet with the country’s leaders.
In 2013, after returning from a trip to Pyongyang, he was suspended for one month for going to North Korea without parliamentary authorization.