On September 12, a special ceremony took place at the Sojiji Temple in Tsurumi, Yokohama, commemorating the first anniversary of Antonio Inoki’s passing, which occurred on October 1, 2022. The event also featured the unveiling of a special statue at the temple.
Representing New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) during the statue unveiling were notable figures such as Tiger Mask, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Yuji Nagata, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, and NJPW consultant Seiji Sakaguchi. Additionally, representatives from AJPW and NOAH were in attendance, along with Inoki’s students, including Yoshiaki Fujiawara, Masahiro Chono, Kazuyuki Fujita, Naoya Ogawa, and others. The ceremony drew a crowd of 120 attendees, all coming together to honor Antonio Inoki’s legacy.
Following the traditional Buddhist ceremony that involved the burning of incense, Naoya Ogawa, serving as the IGF representative, led a spirited chant of ‘1, 2, 3, Daa!’ Subsequently, a unique ‘Burning Fighting Spirit’ statue was revealed at the Inoki family grave. The unveiling was carried out by a distinguished group comprising Sakaguchi, Chono, Fujiwara, Ogawa, Okada, along with Kaito Kiyomiya from NOAH and Kento Miyahara from AJPW. The bronze statue was crafted at 110% of Antonio Inoki’s actual size, with Kazuchika Okada serving as the model to capture the statue’s physique accurately as possible.
Antonio Inoki’s cremated remains are presently in the care of his daughter, Hiroko, who resides in the United States. They will be laid to rest in Yokohama when she returns to Japan later this year. The grave and the statue are accessible for public viewing, welcoming visitors to pay their respects.
Author: Rohit Singh Karir