Pro wrestling legend Antonio Inoki once very famously fought Muhammad Ali in one of the first matches that can be called “Mixed Martial Arts.” The match was a bizarre affair, but it helped turn Inoki into a global megastar and will be something that people talk about pretty much forever. It turns out that nearly 30 years later, he tried to recreate the fight with women, using Chyna in the “pro wrestler” role.
Chyna’s former fiance, Sean Waltman, was a guest on The Tomorrow Show on Monday night, and revealed that when Chyna was with New Japan in 2002, Inoki tried to put together a (perhaps quasi-worked) fight between Chyna and Laila Ali, possibly the greatest female boxer of all time. Chyna shot the idea down, because she knew it was a terrible idea for her.
“When Chyna was working for New Japan he was — [Antonio] Inoki was trying to set up a fight between her and Laila Ali … [Chyna] was his protege. She was Inoki’s protege … she had some grappling skills, but not like that … she knew that it wasn’t a good idea.”
Host Keven Undergaro tried to argue on Chyna’s behalf, saying she would have a shot at winning if she could stick to grappling. Waltman had to lay it all out for him.
“No, Come on … Laila Ali was the best female boxer in the world … Joanie knew. She was like that’s — no way. It ain’t happening … She was realistic about it.”
If there was any doubt that Inoki really took Chyna under his wing when she went to Japan, this definitely settles it. The guy wanted to recreate his most famous fight ever, with Chyna as his proxy. That’s amazing. And kudos to Chyna for realizing she’d get absolutely trucked by Laila Ali and just being like, “Nah, I’m good.”
Just remember that, everyone: it’s okay to turn down career opportunities if they mean getting punched a whole mess in the face. No one ever tells you that in school, but that’s what I’m here for.