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Pro wrestling goes to North Korea

August 3, 2014
Japan's former pro wrestler turned politician Antonio Inoki is seen in this poster advertising a package tour to North Korea. Foreign tourists will be able to watch a rare wrestling event in Pyongyang due to take place from Aug. 30-31.  (Courtesy of Michael Spavor)

Japan’s former pro wrestler turned politician Antonio Inoki is seen in this poster advertising a package tour to North Korea. Foreign tourists will be able to watch a rare wrestling event in Pyongyang due to take place from Aug. 30-31. (Courtesy of Michael Spavor)

World-famous fighters such as Bob Sapp will take part in an international professional wrestling and martial arts competition in Pyongyang on Aug. 30-31, according to Voice of America (VOA).

The event will take place at the Ryugyong Chung Ju-yung Gymnasium with 17 fighters participating, VOA said Saturday, quoting Michael Spavor.

Spavor, a consultant who helped facilitate Dennis Rodman’s controversial visit to the North seven months ago, is taking foreign tour groups to the event.

The gymnasium is the same venue where the Rodman basketball game took place and where the former NBA hall of famer sang “Happy Birthday” to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Spavor released the names of the nine international and eight Japanese wrestlers on his website (www.michaelspavor.com). They include K-1 fighters Bob Sapp from the United States, Peter Aerts from the Netherlands and Jerome Le Banner from France. Pro wrestlers Bobby Lashley from the U.S. and MeikoSatomura from Japan are also included.

Antonio Inoki, former professional wrestler and Japanese politician, is also organizing the event in conjunction with North Korean authorities. He is well known in South Korea as rival to the late Kim Il, a famous Korean professional wrestler in the 1960s and 70s.

Inoki has visited the North more than 30 times, and organized the wrestling event “Collision in Korea” in Pyongyang in 1995.

“I wasn’t there in 1995 for ‘Collision in Korea,’ but judging from some of the video clips online, the North Korean people were both shocked and entertained by this event,” Spavor said in a press release.

“I look forward to seeing the awe and delight in the North Korean spectators who attend this event, just like the Dennis Rodman I witnessed earlier this year.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has held a series of sporting events since he took office when his father Kim Jong-il died in late 2011. He allowed Rodman to organize basketball games there, and his government recently announced that North Korea would send its players and cheerleaders to the upcoming 17th Asian Games in Incheon in September.

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