Bust unveiled ahead of Inoki anniversary
September 12 saw a special ceremony at the Sojiji Temple in Tsurumi, Yokohama marking the first anniversary of Antonio Inoki’s passing at the age of 79 on October 1 2022, as well as to unveil a special statue at the temple.
Representing New Japan Pro-Wrestling at the unveiling were Tiger Mask, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Yuji Nagata, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Kazuchika Okada, as well as NJPW consultant Seiji Sakaguchi. AJPW and NOAH representatives were also present along with Inoki students Yoshiaki Fujiawara, Masahiro Chono, Kazuyuki Fujita, Naoya Ogawa and more, with 120 people in attendance at the ceremony.
After incense was burned according to traditional Buddhist ceremony, Naoya Ogawa acted as IGF representative, leading a call of ‘1,2,3, Daa!’ From there, a special ‘Burning Fighting Spirit’ statue was unveiled at the Inoki family grave by Sakaguchi, Chono, Fujiwara, Ogawa, Okada, and Kaito Kiyomiya of NOAH and Kento Miyahara of AJPW.
The bronze statue was made to 110 percent of Inoki’s living size, with Kazuchika Okada acting as the model for the statue’s physique.
Inoki’s cremated remains are currently with his daughter Hiroko, who resides in the US, and will be laid to rest in Yokohama when she returns to Japan later this year. The grave and statue are open for viewing to the general public.