Next Saturday and Sunday, Antonio Inoki will host a wrestling event in one of the most politically controversial locations on the planet, North Korea. Inoki is a wrestling legend in Japan and has been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. He famously battled Muhammad Ali in Tokyo in 1978. Japan Times provides the details…
Inoki’s latest venture will bring 21 combatants from Japan, the United States, France, Brazil and China to the International Pro Wrestling Festival at the North Korean capital’s 20,000-seat Ryugyong Chung Ju-yung Stadium next Saturday and Sunday.
This will be the second time that Inoki has brought professional wrestling to Pyongyang. In 1995, he organized the “Sports and Cultural Festival For Peace” that is credited as the biggest pro-wrestling event in human history. The event was a joint venture between Inoki’s New Japan Pro Wrestling and the now defunct North American promotion, WCW. It was dubbed “Collision in Korea” in the States.
Over 340,000 North Koreans attended the two-day event in 1995, most likely under duress. Ric Flair was one of the WCW participants and hilariously recounted the ordeal in his fantastic autobiography, To Be The Man. Here’s an excerpt that summarizes this account from a review in The Herald-Dispatch...
Even though it was common knowledge in the mid-1990s that wrestling was scripted, Flair recounts humorously an instance when WCW took wrestling to North Korea. Almost 400,000 people saw the two-day event, assuming they were hosting something more like the Olympics. The local press would even contrive false statements by Ric praising the memory of the “great leader,” Kim Il Sung.
Notable wrestlers who will compete in next week’s event include Bob Sapp and Frenchman Jerome Le Banner. The event will include sideshows featuring fighting styles such as taekwondo and other martial arts. One event that will most likely not be happening will be a game called “Showing Satellite Images of North Korea at Night.”
Judging by that image, North Korea is no more technologically developed than the ocean. So why does a country that refuses to acknowledge petty things like human rights and electricity get to host such a high profile event? Looking back to that Japan Times article…
The sports event was announced last month, days after Tokyo revoked some unilateral sanctions, including curbs on travel, against the isolated state as a reward for its decision to relaunch a probe into the fate of Japanese kidnapped by North Korean agents.
Do you see what happens when stop being evil, North Korea? You get to have nice things, like pro-wrestling. Relatively new leader, Kim Jong Un, seems to have been paving the way for this magical moment. Former NBA Champion and NWO member Dennis “The Worm” Rodman has visited the country.
Will Inoki pave the way towards bringing the reclusive nation into the modern era? It couldn’t hurt. And all joking aside, let’s hope so. It would be wonderful if pro-wrestling plays a small part in helping bring such a reclusive, poverty-stricken nation out of a self-induced coma.
That’s kind of depressing news update. Not only are those North Koreans deprived of good things like liberty and self-reliance, they probably have no idea that a few decades of wrestling goodness is available on demand for only 9.99. The horror! Let’s all remember how awesome John Locke is and then go follow me on Twitter @MitchNickelson. Don’t let the Communists win, people.