Sonny Onoo Recalls United States And Japanese Governments Contacting Him Prior To Collision In Korea

Sonny Onoo was not about to pass up a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The former WCW talent was recently a guest on Busted Open Radio to pay tribute to Antonio Inoki who passed away on September 30 at the age of 79. During the conversation, Onoo spoke at length about the 1995 NJPW and WCW 'Collision In Korea' event which was held in Pyongyang. Onoo explained how the event came about, Mr. Inoki's involvement, and how Muhammad Ali became the guest of honor.

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"Because of Antonio Inoki and his relationship with Eric, we got to go to North Korea. That came about because Inoki had reached out to Eric, actually, Masa Saito did. Masa Saito reached out to Eric because we had such a great relationship and were great friends, actually. That led to Eric mentioning that he had a contact with Muhammad Ali. Of course, Inoki was working out with Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader to go to North Korea for a pro wrestling show. Despite being told, 'Don't go there, you may not come back.' But we were young, we said, 'When's a chance we're going to get to go to North Korea?' We went and got Muhammad Ali involved," he said.

After their infamous bout in 1976, Ali and Inoki did not speak for nearly two decades. It wasn't until a meeting arranged by Eric Bischoff in 1994 that they were able to make amends and rekindle their relationship and agree to work together again for this event.

"Eric set up a meeting in Denver with Mr. Inoki and his entourage and Ali's entourage. We met and that's when Mr. Inoki invited Muhammad Ali, who was also kind of using his sports figure and position to create friendlier relationships with some of our political adversaries. Mr. Ali said, 'Yeah, North Korea, I'm in.' The rest is history, really," Onoo said.

As for whether he felt safe going to North Korea, Onoo cited Inoki's clout within the country, saying that you would have to do something really bad to get in trouble.

"When you have the US government and Japanese government calling me up and saying, 'Hey, we cannot protect your safety. We don't recommend you go in the strongest terms.' That's how they put it. For me, you know, I've been to South Africa during apartheid, it was an experience. My thought was, 'When am I going to get an opportunity to go?' Never. But with Mr. Inoki inviting us, they printed his money while we were there. They had his picture on their currency. That's how much clout he had. There was a stamp over there with his picture. You really got to do something to mess up," he concluded.

You can view more reactions to Inoki's passing from those in the wrestling community by clicking here.

Later in the episode, Eric Bischoff went into more detail about the meeting he brokered between Ali and Inoki. Click here to learn more.

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