Antonio Inoki, a Japanese wrestler best known for fighting Muhammad Ali to a draw in a mixed martial arts match and who also used his showmanship to win fame and influence in North Korea, Iraq and Pakistan, died on Saturday in Tokyo. He was 79.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling, a wrestling company that Mr. Inoki had founded, announced that the cause was amyloidosis, a rare organ disease.
Mr. Inoki had the jutting chin of a wartime dictator but also wore a red scarf with the panache of a French New Wave filmmaker.
He inhabited varying public roles with success. He developed a one-man foreign policy on trips around the world while a member of the Japanese parliament’s upper house. He built a reputation and a following in Pakistan by presenting himself when wrestling there as a convert to Islam. And he projected the image of a jovial jock when slapping fans and fellow celebrities in the face, a signature move intended to transfer some of his fighting spirit.