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Antonio Inoki’s mystery plan

By Zach Arnold | April 27, 2006

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By Zach Arnold

On Thursday night, former Livedoor boss Takafumi Horie was released on bail in Tokyo. Reporters flocked to get a comment from him.

One magazine, Jitsuwa Knuckles, reports that Horie (before the Livedoor scandal) was considering taking part in a fight project with Antonio Inoki. As the fortunes for both Inoki & Horie gone downhill, Jitsuwa Knuckles reports on what the two men had planned on doing in the fight business together.

Translated article:

Horiemon’s arrest led to the cancellation of Mike Tyson vs. Kazuyuki Fujita

A big person in the Fight World disappears

The fight world is in an uproar. Seiya Kawamata, who produced the Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003 event, has sued Nippon TV for 200 million yen and is making criminal claims against PRIDE over disputes with fighters. He has submitted a criminal complaint for actions against him by DSE’s yakuza. Currently, he is escaping overseas. According to Kawamata, when he was held against his will by DSE’s yakuza, Sakakibara was also present and K-1 founder Kazuyoshi Ishii was also threatened (in separate incidents). This has become a story which has broken the taboo about the relations between the yakuza, the fight world, and the TV networks. A big person in the fight world has disappeared — that person is Antonio Inoki.

At the end of March of 2006, the Inoki Office shut its doors. Since then, there is no sign of Inoki or his former employees and management. Last Autumn, Inoki sold his shares in New Japan. In February, his main fighter Kazuyuki Fujita also became a free agent. Inoki has also sold his image rights to Yukes and he seems to be selling all of his commercial rights.

According to a reporter who interviewed Inoki, “Inoki, who has huge debts, has always had money problems. However, up until now he has never considered selling his image rights. Maybe he had to sell his image rights as part of the security to buy the debt-laden New Japan stock shares, but the closing of the Inoki Office leads us to believe that Inoki has been left with nothing. In the past, Inoki has been attacked by the yakuza, but this time we can see that this is the biggest crisis up until now. Based on Kawamata’s complaints, a number a yakuza could be arrested and this could impact & pressure Inoki as well.”

Currently, we contacted Inoki’s luxurious apartment in New York, but he is not there. Up until recently, Inoki has had big plans. For example, in April of 2005, after the dust had settled around the ratings failure of the Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003 event, Inoki was planning a huge fight event.

A joint spectacle between Inoki and Horiemon

This plan was called the World Spectacle. Horie made a tag team with Inoki for this project. Currently, Horie is under arrest but last Autumn, Horie was meeting with Inoki. When Inoki was asked whether this was a real plan, Inoki just laughed it off and said in this fight world, you never know what can happen.

Inoki said, “My dream is a world-class fight. Now, WWE is the market leader, but I want to overtake them. I am in touch with high net-worth individuals who like the fight game. I am also talking to US TV. From now on, the important thing is media & contents and IT is part of that. Broadband is international. Using this, the ideas of young people are important. The young leader Horiemon should be used to create this boom.”

Inoki respected Horie a lot. We don’t know how far this discussion went, but at least we know that Inoki was planning something with Horie. We heard about the detailed plans from a person very close to Inoki, Mr. I (Ito? The ex-boss from the Inoki Office?):

“Horie is planning a trip to outer space. He wants to make a live telecast over the internet. He is after an internationally-leading broadband contents. If he can create compelling contents on Livedoor’s broadband service, he will be able to get world-class sponsors. The first step is the fight industry. Other contents like music and moves have language & cultural barriers, so they have limitations when looked at internationally. However, you don’t need words for the fight industry. Inoki-san has always believed in the universality of fight contents. THis idea and Horie-san’s ideas matched. We can follow WWE’s dominance in pro-wrestling with world-leading MMA contents.”

At this time, Livedoor was working with Dragondoor (Ultimo Dragon) to develop fight contents.

Tyson, Kiyohara, Tatsuyoshi

For a spectacle, you need to gather shocking and world-leading fighters. One of them was Mike Tyson. Of course, around the world, everybody knows Mike Tyson. Fujita mentioned Tyson because Inoki told him that this was a possibility. Mr. I also talked about the possibility of having Kazuhiro Kiyohara (a famous baseball player) fight.

“Kiyohara likes the fight business and has been a second in the past. With his training, his body can become like a pro-wrestler’s or fighter’s body. If his baseball level goes down, he has said that he is interested in fighting in the right depending on the conditions. Even though (Joichiro) Tatsuyoshi wants to fight, the boxing world is not setting up anything for him. Based on his intentions, we can immediately make a fight card. If you broadcast these fights over the Internet, it will be amazing.”

K-1 is also after Tyson & Kiyohara. Sadaharu Tanigawa has said that he has been a fan of Tatsuyoshi for over 20 years, and he wants to make him an offer. If you think about the relations between K-1 and Fuji TV (and Fuji TV & Livedoor), you can see that K-1 could bring this to reality. As a matter of fact, Fujita becoming the main Japanese fighter happened in the K-1 ring.

However, this has all ended as just a dream. Horie was arrested. All of the dreams for the fight business and Livedoor just remained dreams. Moreover, Kawamata made a criminal complaint to the police. Since the yakuza matters have become so highlighted, Inoki cannot do anything. In February of 2006, Inoki attended a pro-wrestling event for Kintaro Ohki. At that time, he said he couldn’t shoot for a worldwide event and said he would concentrate on an Asian event. His dreams for a big match have been crushed.

It’s a bit sad that such a dream project between two famous people like Inoki and Horie came to such a sad end. However, we can’t believe that the Japanese fight contents model won’t make it to the world stage. If we use Inoki’s words, you never know what will happen in this world.

Topics: All Topics, Japan, Media, MMA, Yakuza, Zach Arnold | 2 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

2 Responses to “Antonio Inoki’s mystery plan”

  1. tenzan says:

    sounds like a typical crappy dream project from the JAW

    he can add this to his other failed projects:- tabasco, north korean and banglideshi pro wrestling, the perpetual battery, inoki bom ba ye, new japan pro wrestling

    funny how every crim in japan tries to use tyson’s name to get themselves in the news

  2. […] Maybe this Jitsuwa Knuckles article would be informative for those associated with the IFL to read. […]


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