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Sting Pays Tribute To Antonio Inoki Following Death Of Wrestling Legend

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Sting has joined the many wrestlers and people within the wrestling industry that have paid tribute to the late great Antonio Inoki following the death of the Japanese legend.

Antonio Inoki passed away on Friday, September 30th at the age of 79. His death was reported while WWE’s Smackdown was on the air, so the company took a moment to pay tribute to the man that was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010.

Here’s part of what WWE wrote in tribute to Inoki:

“Born in Yokohama, Japan in 1943, Inoki grew into a natural in-ring competitor. The incredible squared circle figure found his greatest success in New Japan Pro Wrestling, a promotion he founded in 1972. Over the course of the next two decades, Inoki built NJPW into the most successful wrestling company in Asia. Utilizing talented Japanese competitors like Tatsumi Fujinami and Riki Choshu, innovative high-flyers like Tiger Mask and Dynamite Kid and American Superstars like Bob Backlund and Vader, the young promoter created a product that was unique, influential and far ahead of its time. In addition to running the company, Inoki himself was one of the top stars in NJPW, carrying the championship and battling the likes of Stan Hansen, Tiger Jeet Singh and Hulk Hogan.

In his most-famous match, Inoki fought boxing legend Muhammad Ali in a rare wrestler vs. boxer match in June 26, 1976 – a contest that paved the way for the advent of Mixed Martial Arts, which would explode in popularity decades later. The bout also exemplified Inoki’s undying love and respect for professional wrestling. This passion for competition earned him the nickname “Moeru Toukon” amongst his peers, which translates to “The fighting spirit that burns.”

Following Inoki’s death, the tributes came pouring in from people in the wrestling industry that appreciated what Inoki did so much not only in Japan, but for the wrestling world as a whole.

Another wrestling legend that got to wrestle Inoki is Sting, who started wrestling in the 1980s and is still competing in an AEW ring in his 60s. Sting posted this tribute message and photo from when he got to wrestle Inoki.

“It was an honor and a privilege to share the ring with Antonio Inoki. A true legend and a great loss.”

Sting wrestled Inoki once at New Japan’s 1995 January 4th Supershow – then known as BATTLE 7 – to win the BVD Cup Martial Arts Tournament.