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Vince McMahon Spotted Raising a Toast With Deceased Wrestling Legend Antonio Inoki in Rare Photo, Who Even Pushed Muhammad Ali to the Limit

Published 10/01/2022, 12:30 PM EDT

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One of the biggest names in pro wrestling history, Antonio Inoki, sadly passed on October 1, 2022. His impact on the business was profound. Inoki founded the New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) in 1972, which is one of the biggest wrestling companies today.

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He was the first Japanese wrestler to win the WWE Championship when he beat Bob Backlund in 1979. A top-drawer wrestler in his time, Inoki famously fought legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali, in one of the biggest events in combat sports history.

WWE inducted Inoki into their Hall of Fame in 2010, paying a tribute to his impact and achievements in the world of pro wrestling.


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Inoki wished pro wrestling to be in the same light as boxing and other legitimate sports. He believed pro wrestlers deserved to be treated with respect for what they do. He had somewhat the same vision as Vince McMahon, who wished for pro wrestling to grow beyond what it was.

In fact, the two promoters enjoyed a cordial relationship. In one of the rare pictures, we can see Antonio Inoki with Vince McMahon and his wife, along with a couple of wrestling legends.

Rare photo of Vince McMahon raising a toast with Antonio Inoki resurfaced

Vince McMahon’s reluctance to work with other wrestling promotions was well documented. However, during the 1970s and 80s, WWE had a working relationship with Antonio Inoki’s NJPW. Many WWE wrestlers, such as Hulk Hogan, Greg Valentine, and others, toured Japan. Moreover, American fans also witnessed some great Japanese names such as Tiger Mask and Inoki himself wrestle in WWE.

Indeed, in a rare photo that shows the friendship between McMahon and Inoki, the former WWE CEO can be seen raising a toast with the Japanese legend.


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Rare Mind-Blowing Photo of Antonio Inoki Leading the Charge in North Korea With Muhammad Ali and WWE Legend

In the photo, Linda McMahon and famous Japanese wrestlers Seiji Sakaguchi and Tatsumi Fujinami accompany Inoki and McMahon in raising the toast.

Although the exact date of the photo is not known, it might be taken during the time WWE had a working partnership with Japanese promotions like the NJPW, Universal Wrestling Federation, and Universal Lucha Libre in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s.


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This photo showcases two of the most influential men in the history of pro wrestling. Antonio Inoki’s impact on pro wrestling in Japan was immense. The WWE Hall of Famer pushed for pro wrestling to be taken seriously and more respected.


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His efforts are now visible in the NJPW, as it enjoys a massive following in Japan and across the world. Also, Japanese fans now view pro wrestling as a respected sport with many media outlets promoting the events as legitimate sporting occasions. The wrestling community owes a lot to Antonio Inoki, and his legacy will endure forever.

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Written by:

Sherjeel Malik


One take at a time

Sherjeel Malik is a WWE writer at Essentially Sports. He has been a passionate Wrestling fan since childhood and his all-time favorites include 'The Hardy Boyz' and Randy Orton. Sherjeel also follows soccer religiously and is a Liverpool fan.
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Edited by:

Sreeda U M