Eric Bischoff Comments On Antonio Inoki And Muhammad Ali's Relationship

Eric Bischoff thinks his ability to mend fences earned him a trip to North Korea. In a good way.

Bischoff was on the latest episode of "Busted Open Radio," helping the "Busted Open" crew remember the late, great Antonio Inoki. He recalled being in his first year of running WCW and working to rebuild the relationship between WCW and the company Inoki founded, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, which had decayed under Bill Watts's tenure.

"I thought it highly unlikely that I would be able to resurrect that relationship because it was hostile," Bischoff said. "But one of the things that I think helped turn the corner is I got a call from Brad Rheingans. Brad was the American liaison and worked with Masa Saito, but Brad called me and said, 'Mr. Inoki is coming to Denver and he'd really like to become reacquainted with Muhammad Ali.'" 

According to Bischoff, Inoki and Ali had lost touch since their divisive exhibition fight in the 1970s, but Bischoff had a unique contact.

"The year before, I'd done some business with Muhammad Ali, and we became — I don't want to say friends, but friendly," Bischoff said. "I could call. I could talk to his wife, and when Brad called and said Antonio would be in Denver and would like the opportunity to become reacquainted with Muhammad Ali, I called his wife, said, 'Here's the situation,' and the next thing you know, I'm in a hotel room in Denver with Antonio Inoki and Muhammad Ali, seeing each other for the first time since that fight." 

Bischoff says that reuniting the two combat sports legends established him as a serious person. "It was a year later that I'm on a jet flight to Pyongyang sitting next to Muhammad Ali."