Wrestling Rewind: Antonio Inoki Challenges Muhammad Ali

"The Greatest of All Time" met his Japanese counterpart in the summer of 1976.

In the spring of 1975, boxing legend Muhammad Ali sent out a challenge of sorts in a few short words that served as the background for one of the most important sports moments of the decade.

While meeting Japanese Amateur Wrestling Association president Ichiro Hatta, Ali was quoted as asking Hatta, “Isn’t there any Oriental fighter who will challenge me? I’ll give him one million dollars if he wins.” As one might expect, the quote made headlines, and as the news spread to Japan, a Japanese icon with a classic movie star look and the physique of Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped forward: professional wrestler Antonio Inoki.

A little more than a year and $6 million added to Ali’s bank account later, the two squared off at the sold out Nippon Budokan arena in Tokyo to a 15-round draw.

We “Rewind” to that special moment:

Mark Whited
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Mark Whited

Founder / Editor-In-Chief at Wrestledelphia.com
An avid writer and fan of wrestling since he was eight years old, Mark Whited founded Wrestledelphia.com in May 2014. While hoping to one day step foot in a wrestling ring, he also writes for a number of outlets, including The Philadelphia Inquirer.
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