New Japan Pro Wrestling founder and WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki has had his fair share of health issues over the past few years.
Inoki has been in and out of hospitals over recent years following a diagnosis of cardiac amyloidosis, which impairs blood circulation throughout the body.
During a recent interview with Tokyo Sports, Inoki told the publication that he cannot fake how he’s been doing health-wise, and acknowledged that he’d previously assured fans that he was ‘fine’ to avoid further worrying.
“As you can see, I can’t fake it… I’ve almost died about four times, to the surprise of even the doctors, but I’m still alive. That ‘you look fine’ was the selling point. I can’t transmit my energy unless I’m really healthy, so I take care of myself every day. Hospitalization? I’ve been in and out of the hospital for about three years now (laughs).”-Antonio Inoki
Inoki also commented on the recent tragic cervical spinal cord injury of Shinjiro Otani, with the two sharing history dating back to when Otani was a child.
Inoki wishes the former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion well, but knows the injury is more severe than words can live up to.
“I heard the details a couple of days ago. I can’t say, ‘Accidents like this can’t be helped,’ but I guess a wrestler’s neck is the most important thing. I used to bridge with hundreds of kilograms of weights, and I was probably the heaviest man in the world. Conversely, wrestling is sometimes seen as a very lenient sport, but on the other hand, it has its own harsh side. I’ve been sent to the hospital several times in my nearly 60 years, and there are many bad places… I can’t say sweet words. I can’t say anything sweet, like, ‘Please get well soon.’ I heard that he is very seriously injured. Cervical vertebrae are scary, you know. Even though I exercise my neck, it still depends on the angle at which I catch myself…”-Antonio Inoki
Pro Wrestling Zero1 are set to host a Shinjiro Otani benefit show on June 4th, featuring talents from New Japan & Pro Wrestling NOAH, with proceeds from the event going towards Otani’s medical expenses.
As always, we wish nothing but the best for both Inoki and Otani as they continue their respective recoveries. Current IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada has made no secret of his desire for Inoki to be present for NJPW’s 50th anniversary celebrations, and we certainly hope that his health will allow him to be involved in some capacity.