As the Great Inoki revisits Pakistan after a lapse of 36 years, the name has rung so many bells in the minds of all those who have been caught up in an imaginary showdown between Inoki and the Great Gamma since their childhood, where the later came out victorious and invincible as ever.
Although no such fight between the two legendary wrestlers ever took place, the two giants from the world of wrestling have mesmerized children providing them all the necessary material for fantasies. Inoki still considers Gamma as one of the most revered wrestlers of all times.
Having recently embraced Islam, Muhammad Hussain Inoki (formerly known as Antonio Inoki) is on a state visit of the country on a personal invitation of the Chief Minister of Punjab Mr. Shahbaz Sharif.
Inoki arrived in Lahore on December 1t and has met several dignitaries in his weeklong visit. He was then taken to Peshawar where he was given a warm welcome by thousands of fans in the Qayyum Sports Complex on Wednesday , Dec 5th.
Inoki and his team of wrestlers entertained the spectators with their fine display of professional wrestling skills, winning praise from the crowd of Peshawarites who have long forgotten this entertainment in the bleak security scenario in the province.
Inoki lauded the arrangements and praised the warm welcome he has received during his stay in the country and vowed to launch a training academy in the country.
Inoki said that he would deliver peace message from Pakistan through the successful holding of wrestling event. “By having world’s best grapplers in action in Lahore I will be promoting the freestyle game in Pakistan,” said Inoki. “The Pakistan wrestlers of full of talent and all they need is proper training. I will dig out the talent and provide them freestyle training to the selected wrestlers so that they would compete at international level,” he added.
The 6.4 feet Yokohama native started his professional wrestling career at the age of 17 from the Japanese Wrestling Association. From the years 1966 to 1972, Inoki kept switching professional wrestling careers from Japan to United States and finally joined the New Japan Pro Wrestling and defeated WWF Champion Bob Backlund in the year 1979.
Inoki has been rated as one of the few free style wrestles who have not confined themselves to only one form of wrestling.
Inoki faced many opponents from all dominant disciplines of combat from various parts of the world, such as Boxers, Judoka, Karateka, Kungfu practitioners, Sumo Wrestlers and wrestlers.
He also challenged Muhammad Ali in 1976 where the bout ended in a draw.
Inoki announced his Retirement from professional Wrestling in the year 1996 and was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame being the only Japanese to receive the accolade.
Inoki also revealed that he has been warned not to visit the country in wake of the fragile security situation but his past visits and his old acquaintances in the country provided him the assurances.
“I have been to Pakistan on four occasions during the period from 1976 to 1984. Now I was being asked not to visit Pakistan because of security threats but I have deep attachment with Pakistan so I said that I would like to see for myself that how much dangerous this country is,” he maintained. “But everything is good here and we are enjoying our stay”.
Earlier, Inoki and the team of 10 wrestlers visited the graves of Akram Pahlwan and Jhara Pahlwan at Mohni Road, Lahore and paid homage.
Talking about his conversion to Islam, he said that he embraced Islam in 1990 in Iraq but still do not know completely about Islam but wish to know as much as he can.