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Antonio Inoki's life spanned sports, politics and diplomacy

Influential and colorful wrestler leaves indelible mark on Japan's postwar history

Antonio Inoki, seen here in 1992, became known for his trademark flying scissors and drop kicks which he executed with lightning speed.

TOKYO -- Japan lost a sporting giant with the passing over the weekend of Antonio Inoki, one of the biggest names in professional wrestling before he entered politics and engaged in sensitive personal diplomacy.

Inoki died on Oct. 1 in Tokyo at the age of 79 of heart failure caused by systemic amyloidosis. He became a professional wrestling star in Japan in the 1960s and then gained global fame in 1976 when he took on Muhammad Ali in a wrestling versus boxing match billed as "The War of the Worlds" and staged at Tokyo's Budokan arena. It concluded in a draw after 15 rounds.

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