Global Training Report Archives 1997-2016

 

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Global Training Report

Presents

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Antonio Inoki and Sugar Ray Leonard

Talk about Muhammad Ali, Rickson Gracie, Mike Tyson, Sakuraba, Roberto Duran, and much more

From SRSDX No. 38

Jan. 25, 2001

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Translated by Roberto Pedreira

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Inoki: How are you?

Ray: Itfs an honor to meet you.

Inoki: Itfs an unparalleled pleasure for me too.

Ray:@You have used your fame as a wrestler to work in government service [Mr Inoki was formerly a member of the Japanese parliament] , and to help Japanese children in various ways. I really respect that.

Inoki: Sankyu beree machee  [Inoki says in English (more or less)]. I am also a fan of yours. Ifve seen your fights.

Ray: I also saw your fight with Muhammed Ali. Your fight with Muhammed Ali was your biggest event, wasnft it?

Inoki: Yes, thatfs right. Exactly.

Ray: The first thing I want to ask is, when you were fighting Ali, who, as a boxer, has a completely different fighting style [from what you were accustomed to], what was your strategy?

Inoki: First, it was out of the question to try to exchange punches with Ali. I had to avoid his punch at all costs. Otherwise it would end up with only one punch. The only possibility for me was to try to take the fight to the ground.

Ray:@That was smart.

Inoki: What was your biggest event?

Ray: My fights with [Tommy gHit Manh ] Hearns and [Roberto] Duran were big events, but if you mean my biggest event, then I think I would have to say my fight with Marvin Hagler. I had been out of action for three years. Everyone around me told me I couldnft win. I didnft listen to them. I fought with my head and my heart and strategy. It was my biggest event.

Inoki: It was a fantastic fight.

Ray: A fighter, an athlete, must have a gfighterfs mentalityh Without gdispositionh [] and ghearth, you canft be a fighter, and we couldnft have had the experiences we had. In that sense, we have a lot in common.  

Inoki: Thatfs right. We are the same type of man. Even though today is the first time Ifve met you, I feel like Ifve known you for a long time. (laughing).

Ray: Well, as  fighters, who put it on the line [against opponents who are trying to hurt us], we can feel a special kind of pride. I am a fan of Pride. Ifd like to sit next to you at the Pride event that you are producing and discuss things.

Inoki: Yes by all means, come. The Japanese fans are waiting too.

Ray: There is one thing Ifd like to ask. What is the Pride gDream Matchh that youfd like to see? Who against who? Personally, I would select Sakuraba versus Rickson Gracie. Therefs really no other fight than that one, really. Rickson is a friend of mine and I am teaching him how to box. He is the Number One warrior, in my opinion.

Inoki: Thatfs true, isnft it? That would be a good one at that weight. Yet, there are also a lot of good young big fighters out there, such as Fujita, and other pro-wrestlers, who deserve a chance to show what they can do in Pride and Rings.

Ray: Rickson and Sakuraba, will it take place?

Inoki: Well, Rickson doesnft fight very often and he wants to select his opponent carefully.

Ray: Ifm a friend of Rickson and the Rickson I know would never duck any opponent. A champion is someone who doesnft duck tough opponents. There may be a reason why Rickson is not fighting just now, but because he is a champion he will fight any time [his conditions are met?]

Inoki: Well, the fans sometimes want to see fights that are impossible to make. If it [Sakuraba vs. Rickson] happens, it will be like a dream. 

Ray: Pridefs concept of matching judokas against karatekas and having them battle it out until the best man is the one left standing at the end, that is really a great thing. This idea of having fighters with different backgrounds get together and fight, man against man, to determine who is the strongest, this is really a fantastic concept.

Inoki: What do you think about a boxer getting it on in Pride?

Ray: I would like to see it. Especially Mike Tyson. He has a tremendously powerful body and fights low to the ground, in a crouch. If he understands ground techniques, he has the potential to win. He also knows how to bite well (laughing).

Inoki: (laughs)

Ray: But, it seems that 90% of the action in Pride takes place on the ground,  so a judoka would be at less of a disadvantage than a boxer.

Inoki: That's true. But I think that, whether you win or lose, the important thing is to accept the challenge and go for it. 

Ray: I agree.  Both of us  fought as warriors, with pride, so we were appreciated as something more than mere athletes.

Inoki: Hmmm. When I watched your fights, I saw a certain great beauty. Your technicality, it had an aspect of the martial arts in it which I admired. It was the "art of fighting". Other fighters didn't have that [to the same degree?] Because there are a lot of strong fighters.  But among those strong fighters, there are some who can show that. 

Ray: Ever since I was a young kid, I've been a fan of Bruce Lee. I felt a strong attraction for the Asian martial arts. Because of that, when I was competing as a boxer, I fought with "heart" and " mentality" and "spirituality". 

Inoki:  When I'm asked for an autograph, I write my favorite expression, , (toukon) which has the meaning "fuaiteingu supiritto" [fighting spirit]. That is the most important thing, I think.

Ray: I think that's great, writing "fighting spirit" on an autograph pad [the Japanese fans collect autographs on a special kind of paper designed for autographs, called " shikishi", which are then usually mounted and hung on a wall]. Fighting spirit isn't only necessary for fighting in a ring, but also for taking care of your family. You have to fight everyday just to make a living. When you fight [with spirit] you get everyone's respect. Fighting spirit is everything in life. 

If you wouldn't mind, Mr. Inoki, please write (toukon) on this autograph pad for me. 

Inoki: Well, let's exchange autographs.

Ray: Thanks.

Inoki: Let's get together again in Japan, shall we?

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(c) 2001, Roberto Pedreira. All rights reserved.

Revised slightly August 5, 2016.

Interested in Boxing? Check out Kenny, Sean, Ned, and Piston.

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Meet Antonio's Inoki's brother in Rio.

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GTR Publications

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Choque 3, 1961-1999

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Choque 2, 1950-1960 

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