Japan lawmaker wrestles with N. Korea 'sport diplomacy'

A Japanese wrestler-turned-politician hopes his vision of “sports diplomacy” can repair his country’s fraught relationship with North Korea, as he prepares to host an extraordinary sporting event in Pyongyang. Standing 1.9 metres (six feet three inches) tall, with a square jaw and a penchant for red scarves, Inoki is instantly recognisable on Japanese television, but is best known abroad for taking on world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in a zany wrestler-versus-boxer match in Tokyo in 1976. The grappler also organised and competed in a “Sports and Cultural Festival for Peace” in Pyongyang in 1995, featuring bouts between Japanese and American pro wrestlers publicly staged for the first time in the reclusive country, with an ailing Ali as a guest.

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