Regardless what the younger generation of puroresu fans say, without Antonio Inoki, the post-Rikidozan puroresu
would never been accepted as a "sport" by general public in Japan. Even today, there are many martial art fighters who
started training after being inspired by Antonio Inoki's matches.
With "King of Sports" and "civil rights for puroresu" as his mottos, Inoki started New Japan Pro-Wrestling in 1972. Since then,
he had put his effort to prove that the pro-wrestling is the strongest sport and to raise
the status of the sport in the general public in Japan. It's just hard to describe his never ending dreams in right words,
especially when his past achievements include things like :
having a number of mixed matches against the great fighters of other sports including Willem Ruska (judo gold medalist in the Olympic games in Munich), Muhammad Ali (world boxing champion),
Chuck Wepner (whose career Rocky is said to be based on), and Willie Williams (world karate champion),
promoting the first/rare pro-wrestling cards in Taiwan, China, and Soviet Union,
being the first pro-wrestler in the world to be elected as a congressman of a country,
having meetings with the politicians whom the officials from western/democratic nations have rarely met, such as the Hussein family of Iraq and Fidel Castro of Cuba, and
promoting the first two pro-wrestling cards in North Korea with the world record crowd of approximately 150,000 and 190,000.
After his retirement in 1998, Inoki has continued to produce interpromotional matches with MMA organizations such as K-1 and PRIDE to keep the tradition of fighting spirit that New Japan Pro-Wrestling seems to have lost.