The 16 opponents fighting for the title of “World’s Top Martial Artist”:
Judokas: Willem Ruska (3 times), Shota Chochishvili (2 times)
Pro Boxers: Muhammad Ali, Chuck Wepner, Karl Mildenberger, Leon Spinks
Pro Wrestlers: Andre the Giant
Pakistani Wrestlers: Akram Pahalwan, Jhara Pahalwan
Karatekas: Everett Eddie (2 times), Willie Williams, Johnny Lee, Mr. X, Kim Klokeid
Kung Fu: Mike Dayton
Sumo: Anoalo Atisanoe
Willem Ruska, (born 29 August 1940), Amsterdam, Netherlands, 6’2″, 207 lbs,
was 35 at the first fight and 39 at the last.
Won two Judo Olympics Gold Medals in 1972 (Heavyweight and Open categories).
Retired after the Olympic Games.
Was involved in pro wrestling and shoot wrestling from 1976 to 1980. Had 14 pro wrestling matches during this period.
Olympic Judo Gold Medalist (half-heavyweight) in 1972 at age 22.
Won Olympic Judo Bronze medal (Open) in 1976
He was 38 years at the moment of his two consecutive fights vs Inoki.
At the time of his two fights with Inoki was between 30 and 32 years old.
2nd World Open Karate Tournament 1979 (IKO) – 3rd Place
Was 29 in his 1980 fight vs Inoki.
Muhammad Ali, (born January 17, 1942), Louisville, Kentucky, USA, 6’3″, 220 lbs,
Was 34 at the time of the fight.
Boxing record: 53-2 (at the time of the fight)
WBC/WBA Heavyweight Champion Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion
Light Heavyweight Boxing Gold medal at the 1960 Olympic Games at 18 years old.
Amateur record: 100-5
Became World Champion for the first time at age 22.
Chuck Wepner, (born February 26, 1939), Bayonne, New Jersey, USA, 6’5″,
Was 38 years old at the time of the Inoki fight.
Boxed in the Marines
Started his pro career in 1964
Had a 33-13-2 pro boxing record at the time
Former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion George Foreman was the designated opponent but was unable to fight due to contract problem.
Former European Boxing Champion
Was 41 years old in his 1978 Inoki fight and retired 10 years ago.
Pro Boxing record: 53-6-3 (19KO)
Southpaw and started his pro career at 20.
Leon Spinks, (born July 11, 1953), St.Louis, Missouri, USA, 6’1″, 76″ reach,
Was 33 years old in 1986 at the time of the fight.
With a pro boxing record of 17-6-2
Defeated Muhammad Ali to became the Undisputed Boxing Champion in February 15, 1978. It was his 8th pro fight. Lost it seven months later to Ali.
Light Heavyweight Boxing Gold medalist at the 1976 Olympics
Was 46 years old with 23 years of pro wrestling experience at the time of the fight (1976).
retired after his damaging defeat to Inoki in 1976.
Jubel Pelwan, a newphew of Akrum
Mr. X, masked karateka Mr. X, who became famous in the movie “Squared Jungle.”
Was originally scheduled to fight Uganda dictator Idi Amin but cancelled because of a coup d’etat in Uganda.
Mike Dayton, (October 22, 1948), 5’11”, 200 lbs, was 30 at the moment of the fight (April 1979)
Teenage Mr. America 1967; Iron Man Winner 1968;
Kung Fu Master of Chi 1976
Bodybuilding Mr. America 1976
Was one of the 8 participants at the inaugural Worlds Strongest Man Contest in 1977
Kyokushin Karate Black Belt, 4th Dan 1979
“Martial Arts Olympics”