NJPW Founder Antonio Inoki Makes Rare TV Appearance [Video]

Antonio Inoki

Wrestling icon and founder of NJPW, Antonio Inoki, has made an appearance on a charity television show in Japan and sparked concerns about his health among fans.

Antonio Inoki is a highly-decorated legend of Japanese wrestling. He trained under the Godfather of the sport in the country, Rikidōzan, from the age of 17 and then by another hugely influential wrestler, Karl Gotch.

Inoki wrestled for Rikidōzan’s promotion, the Japanese Wrestling Association for several years until, after the murder of his mentor, he went on excursion to the US in 1964. He returned to the JWA in 1971, but after a failed power grab was fired.

It was then that he went his own way and founded New Japan Pro Wrestling, which still operates 50 years later. However, Inoki himself was forced out of the company in 2005 after a big downturn in fortunes that many blamed on his booking decisions and focus on MMA-style matches which were not popular with fans.

Inoki also had a successful political career, being elected to the House of Councillors on two occasions.

In recent years, however, the star’s health has deteriorated and he has been in and out of hospitals after being diagnosed with systemic transthyretin amyloidosis, a condition that affects blood circulation throughout the body.

Inoki reportedly underwent surgery on his lower back in 2018 and has been using a wheelchair ever since.

Now, a video has been posted on social media showing Antonio Inoki making an appearance on television for the charity program, ’24 Hour Television’, an annual telethon event.

Inoki’s frail appearance on the show has led to many fans fearing for his health as, while he has not hid his condition, people were unaware how much he had declined.

Despite his ill health, Antonio Inoki recently launched a new management company, the Inoki Genki Factory, which will manage athletes and celebrities as well as be involved in entertainment planning and advertising. Inoki will serve as an adviser in the new venture.

The name of the new business is a reference to a pro wrestling and MMA promotion he founded in 2007, the Inoki Genome Federation (IGF). This IGF ran for several years before closing its doors in 2019.