- Publish Date
- Sunday, 5 June 2016, 9:29AM
It was almost 40 years ago to the date. Muhammad Ali was the heavyweight champion, still riding the high of beating George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle.
In search of a good payday, he agreed to go on another trip overseas - to Japan to fight professional wrestler Antonio Inoki in a 15-round match on June 26, 1976.
Bob Arum was the promoter and wanted to make sure nothing stood in the way of Ali's upcoming third fight with Ken Norton. He went to wrestling promoter Vince McMahon to figure out a way to protect Ali in the ring in a promotion that would be shown on closed circuit around the United States.
"He came up with a script that was brilliant," Arum recalled. "Ali liked it; we all liked it."
The plan was for Ali to catch Inoki on the ropes and pound away with punches that didn't really land. Inoki was to have hidden a razor in his mouth and cut himself so there was real blood flowing onto Ali's white trunks.
Ali was supposed to beg the referee to stop the fight, turning his back on Inoki to make his case. At that point, Inoki would jump on Ali's back, take him down and pin him for the win.
Read the full story at NZ Herald