Author, Josh Gross talks about his new book, Ali vs. Inoki, when Muhammad Ali fought in a mixed-rules contest against iconic pro wrestling champion Antonio Inoki for the so-called “martial arts championship of the world.” We talk about what was going on in Ali’s head before the match (from pre-fight interviews) and how Inoki shaped modern mixed martial arts.
Jay Tan interviews.
“Inoki can use his bare fists. He can use karate. This is serious. There’s $10 million involved. I wouldn’t pull a fraud on the public. This is real. There’s no plan. The blood. The holds. The pain. Everything is going to be real. I’m not here in this time of my life to come out with some phony action. I want you to know this is real.”
—Muhammad Ali, June 14, 1976, The Tonight Show
Bio: Josh Gross is considered a pioneer of mixed martial arts journalism. His reporting spans MMA’s shift from an underground, counterculture free-for-all to a multibillion dollar industry regarded as one of the world’s fastest growing sports today. During 15 years in the business, Gross can claim to be the only reporter who covered MMA full-time for Sports Illustrated and ESPN. Josh is known for investigative works, and he hosts a popular podcast, Gross Point Blank.