Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki, billed as The War of the Worlds, was a fight between American professional boxer Muhammad Ali and Japanese professional wrestler Antonio Inoki, held at the Nippon Budokan arena in Tokyo, Japan, on June 26, 1976. At the time, Ali had come off a knockout victory over Richard Dunn in May and was the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion. Inoki, who had been taught catch wrestling by wrestler Karl Gotch, was staging exhibition fights against champions of various martial arts, in an attempt to show that pro wrestling was the dominant fighting discipline.
The fight itself, which was fought under special rules, is seen as a precursor to modern mixed martial arts (MMA). The majority of the fight saw Inoki on his back kicking Ali’s legs 107 times uninhibited by the referee (due to a particular rule negotiated shortly before the fight, which allowed him to do so without being disqualified). The result of the fight, a draw, has long been debated by the press and fans. The fight was refereed by Gene LeBell.