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Monday, June 6, 2016

Muhammad Ali vs Professional Wrestler Antonio Inoki in 1976!

Ali's Easy Payday.

In 1976 Muhammad Ali was the heavyweight champion again and in search of an easy payday when he went to Japan to fight Japanese pro-wrestler Antoni Inoki in a 15-round match. 

The unlikely match up between Ali and Inoki actually came about a year before the event in 1975 after Ali met the president of the Japanese Amateur Wrestling Association, Ichiro Yada in New York. Ali jokingly asked if there was no Oriental fighter who will challenge him then adding that if there was and they could beat him, he’d give the winner $1 million. When Yada returned to Japan, Ali’s remark made headlines in the Sankei Sports Newspaper and Inoki doggedly started pursuing the heavyweight champ to take up his challenge.

Promoter Bob Arum wanted to make sure though that nothing stood in the way of Ali’s upcoming third fight with Ken Norton so he went to wrestling promoter Vince McMahon to figure out a way to protect Ali in the ring: 

“He came up with a script that was brilliant,” Arum recalled. “Ali liked it; we all liked it.”

The Script.

The plan was for Ali to catch Inoki on the ropes and pound away with punches that didn’t really land. Inoki was to have hidden a razor in his mouth and cut himself so there was real blood flowing onto Ali’s white trunks. Ali was supposed to beg the referee to stop the fight, turning his back on Inoki to make his case. At that point, Inoki was to jump on Ali’s back, taken him down and pin him for the win.

“It’s Pearl Harbor all over again!” Ali was going to yell out after the loss.

The Non-Fight.

The only problem was Inoki had some handlers who thought it was going to be a real fight with both sides arguing days before the fight  about the rules for the fight BUT agreeing on nothing! When the opening bell rang, Inoki raced across the ring and threw a kick at Ali, falling to the canvas. He stayed there in a crab-like position most of the 15 rounds kicking at Ali’s legs. 

While Inoki wasn’t in on the plan, the referee was. He declared the fight a draw, much to the displeasure of the crowd in Tokyo. “It was the low point of my career,” Arum said. “It was so embarrassing, just a total farce.”