Template:Nihongo (born Template:Nihongo on February 20, 1943) is a Japanese professional wrestling promoter and retired professional wrestler and mixed martial artist who now resides between New York City and Tokyo. He was also the founder and former owner of New Japan Pro Wrestling before selling his controlling share in the promotion to Yukes. 
Inoki was born in an affluent family in Yokohama in 1943. He was the sixth son and the second youngest of the seven boys and four girls. His father, Sajiro Inoki, a businessman and politician, died when Kanji was five years old. Inoki entered the Higashidai Grade School. Inoki was taught karate by an older brother while in 6th grade. By the time he was in 7th grade at Terao Junior High School, he was 180 centimeters tall and joined the basketball team. He later quit and joined a track and field club as a shot putter. He eventually won the championship at the Yokohama Junior High School track and field competition.
The family fell on hard times in the post-war years, and in 1957, the 14 year-old Inoki immigrated to Brazil with his grandfather, mother and brothers. His grandfather died during the journey to Brazil. Inoki won regional championships in Brazil in the shot put, discus throw, and javelin throw, and finally the All Brazilian championships in the shot put and discus.
Professional wrestling careerEdit
Japan Wrestling Association (1960–1966)Edit
Inoki met Rikidōzan at the age of 17. He went back to Japan for the Japanese Wrestling Association (JWA) as Rikidōzan's disciple. One of his dojo classmates was Giant Baba. After Rikidozan's death, Inoki worked under the taller Baba's shadow until he joined the original Tokyo Pro Wrestling in 1966.
Tokyo Pro Wrestling (1966–1967)Edit
After wrestling a long excursion in the United States, Inoki found a new home in Tokyo Pro Wrestling. While there, Inoki became their biggest star. Unfortunately, the company folded in 1967, due to turmoil behind the scenes.
Japan Wrestling Association (1967–1971)Edit
Returning to JWA in late 1967, he was made Baba's partner and the two dominated the tag team ranks as the "B-I Cannon", winning the NWA International tag team belts four times. Wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino tells a story about Inoki trying to "shoot" on him during a tag match in Osaka to build his reputation against the then-world champ. Bruno powered out of the hold, pounded Inoki unmercilessly and threw him out of the ring. Inoki refused to re-enter the ring with Sammartino and tagged in Baba to finish the match.Template:Citation needed
New Japan Pro Wrestling (1972–1994)Edit
Fired from JWA in late 1971 for planning a takeover of the promotion, Inoki founded New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1972. His first match as a New Japan wrestler was against Karl Gotch. In 1995 the Japanese and Korean governments came together to hold a two-day wrestling festival for peace in Pyongyang, North Korea. The event drew 150,000 and 190,000 fans respectively to May Day Stadium. The main event saw the only match between Inoki and Ric Flair with Inoki coming out on top. Days before this event, Inoki and the Korean press went to the grave and birthplace of Rikidōzan and paid tribute to him.
On November 30, 1979, Inoki defeated WWF Champion Bob Backlund in Tokushima, Japan to win the title. Backlund then won a re-match on December 6. However, WWF president Hisashi Shinma declared the re-match a no-contest due to interference from Tiger Jeet Singh, and Inoki remained Champion. Inoki refused the title on the same day and it was declared vacant. Backlund later defeated Bobby Duncum in a Texas Death match to regain the title on December 12. As Inoki refused the title his reign is not included nor is it recognized by WWE in its official history and Backlund is recognized as having one reign from 1978–1983.
Final countdown and retirement (1994–present)Edit
Inoki's retirement from professional wrestling matches came with the staging of the "Final Countdown" series between 1994 and 1998. This was a special series in which Inoki re-lived some of his mixed martial arts matches under professional wrestling rules, as well as rematches of some of his most well known wrestling matches. Inoki faced Don Frye in the final match of his professional wrestling career.
Culminating in 2006, Inoki's influence within New Japan declined. An example of this has been the purchase of his image by YUKE's, who in 2005 purchased his controlling 51.5% stock in New Japan. As a result New Japan is now able to control Inoki's appearances and the use of his image. Inoki began a new promotion in 2007 called Inoki Genome Federation that competes with New Japan.
On February 1, 2010, World Wrestling Entertainment announced on its Japanese website that Inoki would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2010. On February 9, WWE held a press conference in Tokyo, Japan to officially announce the induction, making him the first ever Japanese person to receive the induction.  Inoki was presented with a Hall of Fame certificate by WWE's Ed Wells and stated that he will be attending the WrestleMania XXVI weekend festivities, which will see him officially inducted.
Mixed martial artsEdit
Inoki was amongst the group of professional wrestlers who were tutored in the art of hooking and shooting by the professional wrestler Karl Gotch. Inoki then went on to stage a series of mixed martial arts matches against champions from numerous other disciplines of martial arts. Inoki named his method of fighting "strong style". This method of wrestling (which was taught to Inoki by Gotch) borrowed heavily from professional wrestling's original catch wrestling roots. It is one of the most important influences of modern shoot wrestling.
Inoki was a pioneer of mixed martial arts and faced many opponents from all dominant disciplines of combat from various parts of the world, such as Akram Pahalwan in Pakistan, Willie Williams of Kyokushin Karate, Olympic judo gold medalist Willem Ruska and WBA and WBC World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali.
Though many of Inoki's matches were dismissed by the skeptics as worked, there has been little or no proof at all to suggest the validity of the worked theory and Inoki's mixed martial arts opponents have never stated that the matches were "fake". Most of the skepticism arose from the fact that Inoki was a professional wrestler, which automatically led to an assumption that the matches might have been worked.
The worked theory also arises from Inoki's June 26, 1976 match in Tokyo with Muhammad Ali. Inoki initially promised Ali a worked match to get him to fight in Japan, but when the deal materialized Ali's camp feared that Inoki would turn the fight into a shoot, which many believe was Inoki's intention. Ali visited a professional wrestling match involving Inoki and witnessed Inoki's grappling ability. The rules of the match were announced several months in advance. Two days before the match, however, several new rules were added which severely limited the moves that each man could perform. A rule change that had a major outcome on this match was that Inoki could only throw a kick if one of his knees was on the ground. In the match, Ali landed a total of six punches to Inoki, and Inoki kept to his back in a defensive position almost the full duration of the match of 15 rounds, hitting Ali with a low kick repeatedly. The bout ended in a draw, 3-3. Ali left without a press conference and suffered damage to his legs as a result of Inoki's repeated leg kicks.
Inoki organizes Mixed Martial Arts events like "NJPW Ultimate Crush" and "Jungle Fight", showing traditional professional wrestling matches and mixed martial arts matches on the same card.Template:Citation needed Some of the major attractions of these events involve the best of NJPW against world renowned fighters in mixed martial arts matches. Inoki vs Renzo Gracie was a professional wrestling match that took place at Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2000 against mixed martial artist Renzo Gracie. Inoki was the ambassador for the International Fight League's Tokyo entry before that promotion's demise. Inoki is one of the founders of Kansuiryu Karate.
Inoki was married to actress Mitsuko Baisho from 1971 to 1987. Initially the wedding was going to be paid by JWA, but JWA fired him in late 1971, so Inoki had to form NJPW to keep feeding his new family. Inoki and Baisho have a daughter, Hiroko (who uses her father's surname). Hiroko is married to Simon Inoki, who in 2005 was named President of NJPW. They are divorced now.
Inoki appeared in the movie, The Bad News Bears Go To Japan, as a wrestler. He had the starring role in the film Acacia directed by Jinsei Tsuji.
During one visit to a school in the 1980s, Inoki was punched twice by a student. Inoki slapped the student across the face. The student, who later turned out to be an Inoki fan, then thanked Inoki for the slap. The incident became very famous as the then live clip of the binta (slap in the face) was shown many times on Japanese television. Now various celebrities and even common people in Japan ask Inoki to slap them to install courage or even as some sort of strange blessing. The slap's name is the "Fighting Spirit (or Tōkon) Slap." (闘魂ビンタ)
In 1989, Inoki established the Sports and Peace Party (スポーツ平和党). He was elected to the House of Councillors of the National Diet of Japan. He continued to wrestle and promote while serving as a legislator. He served in the Diet until 1995, when he failed to win re-election, after accusations of Yakuza involvement and bribery lead to a decline in his popularity. Inoki met with Saddam Hussein for the release of prisoners from Iraq before the Gulf War. As is the traditional gift for a visiting head-of-state, Saddam gave Inoki a pair of golden swords.Template:Citation needed
In wrestling Edit
- Signature moves
- Entrance themes
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
- Japan Wrestling Association
- 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)
- NWA Big Time Wrestling
- NWA Hollywood Wrestling
- NWA North American Tag Team Championship (Los Angeles/Japan version) (1 time) - with Seiji Sakaguchi
- NWA United National Championship (1 time)
- World Wide Wrestling Federation/Entertainment
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
|Win||22px Shota Chochishvili||Submission (kimura)||1989-05-25||2||1:07||Osaka, Japan||Won WWF World Martial Arts title.|
|Loss||22px Shota Chochishvili||KO||1989-04-24||5||1:20||Tokyo, Japan||Lost WWF World Martial Arts title.|
|Win||Leon Spinks||Pin||1986-10-09||8||1:23||Tokyo, Japan||Retained WWF World Martial Arts title.|
|Win||Anoalo Atisanoe||Pin||1984-09-20||5||0:25||Osaka, Japan||Retained WWF World Martial Arts title.|
|Draw||Willie Williams||Draw (both fell out of the ring)||1980-02-27||4||1:24||Tokyo, Japan||Retained WWF World Martial Arts title.|
|Win||22px Kim Klokeid||KO||1979-12-13||3||0:58||Kyoto, Japan||Retained WWF World Martial Arts title.|
|Win||Willem Ruska||Submission (bow and arrow)||1979-10-05||15:06||South Korea||Retained WWF World Martial Arts title.|
|Draw||22px Jhara Pelwan||Draw||1979-06-16||5||22px Lahore, Pakistan||Retained WWF World Martial Arts title.|
|Win||Mike Dayton||TKO||1979-04-03||6||1:19||Fukuoka, Japan||Retained WWF World Martial Arts title.|
|Win||Template:Noflag||Submission (arm scissors)||1979-02-06||3||0:50||Osaka, Japan||Retained WWF World Martial Arts title.|
|Win||Karl Mildenberger||Submission (boston crab)||1978-11-09||4||1:15||Frankfurt, Germany||Awarded WWF World Martial Arts title|
|Win||Everett Eddie||KO||1978-06-07||7||1:58||Fukuoka, Japan|
|Win||Johnny Lee||KO||1978-04-04||3||1:19||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|Win||Chuck Wepner||Submission (boston crab)||1977-10-25||6||1:35||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||Everett Eddie||KO (leg drop)||1977-08-08||5||1:38||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||22px Akram Pahalwan||TKO (kimura, broken arm)||1976-12-12||3||1:05||22px Karachi, Pakistan|
|Win||Willem Ruska||TKO||1976-12-09||21:27||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||André the Giant||TKO (head to ring corner post)||1976-10-07||23:44||Tokyo, Japan|
|Draw||Muhammad Ali||Draw (time limit)||1976-06-26||15||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||Willem Ruska||TKO (back suplexes)||1976-02-06||20:56||Tokyo, Japan|
- ↑ http://uk.games.ign.com/objects/026/026882.html
- ↑ http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/7196/Yukes_Buys_Controlling_Share_of_New_Japan_Pro_Wrestling.php
- ↑ 
- ↑ http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/wrestling/2846141/Antonio-Inoki-to-be-inducted-into-WWE-Hall-Of-Fame.html#ixzz0f9hAMZgl
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Cohen, Eric. Antonio Inoki vs Muhammad Ali, About.com, Retrieved on 2007-12-01.
- ↑ Inoki vs. Ali Footage. Retrieved on 2007-12-04.
- ↑ Tallent, Aaron. The Joke That Almost Ended Ali's Career. Retrieved on 2007-12-04.
- ↑ 
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
<ref>tag; no text was provided for refs named
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 Finishing Moves List. Other Arena. Retrieved on 2009-08-28.
- Puroresu.com: Antonio Inoki
- Website of the film 'Catch - the hold not taken', featuring Inoki
- Inoki's Mixed Martial Arts History.
- Article on NJPW's Influence in Mixed Martial Arts on NJPW.com
- All Roads Lead To Inoki on NJPW.com
- Antonio Inoki and Mizutani-sensei form Kansuiryu Karate in 1979
- Muhammad Ali vs Antonio Inoki
- WWE Hall of Fame: Antonio Inoki