Special Reports

Japanese wrestling legend becomes Muslim

“Hall of Fame” wrestler Antonio Inoki is remembered by many for his physical prowess and his legendary 1976 battle against the great Muhammad Ali. But now, years after retiring from his beloved sport, Inoki is making a new name for himself - quite literally. Last month, the Japanese wrestling legend, who reportedly converted to Islam in the 1990s, announced that he's changed his name to Muhammad Hussain Inoki. Under the banner of his new moniker, Inoki is now making his mark outside the wrestling ring by championing worldwide peace and "international brotherhood" on a global stage through sports and investment in youth.

Long known for his passion for peace-brokering on behalf of his native Japan, Inoki - who, in 1990, was sent as a special envoy to Iraq to negotiate with Saddam Hussein over the release of Japanese hostages - visited Pakistan in December to take part in an international peace wrestling competition.

Inoki has also become an emblem of religious tolerance, garnering support for his faith from all corners of the globe. Inoki received a "hero's welcome" when he arrived in Pakistan recently.

Early in 1976, Inoki had faced off with Muhammad Ali, in what the Guardian described as a "prototype mixed martial arts fight" in Tokyo. Ali wore gloves, Inoki didn't. The two essentially competed for the title of "toughest man on the planet." The fight ended in a tie.

During in 2010 became the first Japanese person to be inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment's Hall of Fame. (Dominique Mosbergen, huffingtonpost.com)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 April 2013 on page no. 13

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