The First Time A Boxer Faced A Pro Wrestler: Muhammad Ali vs Antonio Inoki

The great boxer, Muhammad Ali, has dozens of fights under his belt. Even if you do not know all of the other players in the ring with Ali, you do know his name because of everything he has accomplished.

What you definitely do not know is that Ali took on an MMA fighter from Japan, and nearly lost his leg doing it. (It is part of the reason Ali shuffled and limped for so long afterwards.)

The other thing the great Ali was known for was spouting and taking on challenges from other fighters. What he never expected was that MMA fighter Antonio Inoki from Japan would step up to the plate. Inoki was younger, beefier, heavier, and had been taught mixed martial arts from an early age.

Inoki did not speak or understand English. As such, he was unaware of all of the rules of American boxing. Ali’s team insisted on banning all forms of kicking, holding, etc. Inoki rebelled by sticking steel plates in his boxing boots because, as he told the press later, “They didn’t say I couldn’t do that!”

It was the steel plates in Inoki’s boots and the kicks to Ali’s knee while Inoki just lay on the mat that resulted in a very swollen leg by the eighth round. Even though Ali was in obvious and excruciating pain and could barely hobble about, he continued the fight. By the time the fight ended, doctors were debating whether or not they should amputate Ali’s leg. It was that bad.


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