Big in Japan

30 07 2011

Originally Published: May 15, 2008

Big in Japan in New York City. Sell out crowds and T-Shirt sales. Today I think it’s safe to say that Ichiro is familiar with Inoki, and Matsuzaka and Matsui surely pay their respects to Nomo. From Soriano to Shinjo, the influence and marketability of Japanese players has only grown. In fact, even the flops are good business.

Fans salute the Ks

Fans salute the Ks

Remember Me?
I’m 6 foot 4 inches. I weigh 240lb strong.

My nickname is Japan was Kurage – Japanese for ‘Jellyfish’

In 1997 I signed for 4 years, $12.8 Million to play in MLB

I have something up my sleeve…literally. I request 30 tiny magnets be attached to my right arm while I pitch – for blood circulation of course.

I carry around Nike bags in spring training, despite the $95 Million deal I signed with Adidas before throwing 1 major league pitch.

I sold out every seat in Yankee Stadium in my MLB debut; that’s 51,901 fans. In retrospect, the hype was only comparable to Mickey Mantle’s debut in 1951.

On the night of my first start I generated a $1M increase in on-site Stadium revenue.

Irabu tips his cap to the crowd in the Bronx

Irabu tips his cap to the crowd in the Bronx

My 1st game was broadcast to 35 million homes and 38 large public outdoor screens in urban areas of Japan.

My name used to be ‘ERA-boo’ in Japan – but it quickly became ‘ir-RAH-boo’ in the states. Typhoon Irabu – as the T-Shirts said.

He is now fondly known in baseball circles as simply ‘The Toad’





The Greatest, The Giant, Rocky, and a Sports Peace Party

30 07 2008

June 26, 1976
Muhammad Ali vs Antonio Inoki

The scene: America’s own 34-yr old heavyweight champion (of the world) versus Japan’s reining heavyweight wrestling champ at the Budokan Arena in Tokyo.

In a 15-round snooooze… The Greatest throws just 2 punches as Inoki spends most of the bout on his back, playing footsy with Ali.

Inoki no fight!

Inoki no fight!

Fans throw beer and fruit. Ali yells, ‘Inoki no fight! Inoki girl!!’

The fight is ruled a draw. Ali later swears off gimmick fights, but changes his mind 3 years later and whips NFL defensive lineman Lyle Alzado  in 8 rounds.

Inoki went on to win a seat in Japan’s parliament – representing the Sports and Peace party.

It gets stranger….

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