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The time the boxer who linked Ali to Tyson fled the ring in terror vs. a Japanese professional wrestler

Trevor Berbick stepped off his airplane in Tokyo anticipating a straightforward payday. The previous WBC World Heavyweight Champion was on the town for a one-off battle in opposition to knowledgeable wrestler below kickboxing guidelines. Certain, it wasn’t Berbick’s fundamental self-discipline, however this was a faux fighter — how tough may it’s?

Little did he know that he’d quickly be doubled-over in ache, clutching at his knee, earlier than escaping the ring in terror earlier than the beating acquired even worse.

The UWFi was a short-lived experiment in Japan within the early Nineties. It was designed to showcase the legitimacy of Japanese “sturdy model” wrestling, which featured true hanging alongside professional wrestling grappling, as a approach to blur the road between actuality and fiction. At a time the place WWE (then WWF) was leaning extra into entertaining youngsters with brilliant, colourful characters, Japan was making an attempt to take care of the realism {of professional} wrestling.

Berbick was booked to return to Japan and battle in opposition to knowledgeable wrestler in a one-off bout as the primary occasion of “UWF-I Kakutogi Sekaiichi” on the legendary Ryōgoku Kokugikan sumo corridor. It will present the world the facility of Japanese sturdy model, and switch the heads of those that believed wrestling was faux.

Berbick was no slouch. This was a person who beat Muhammad Ali within the ultimate battle of Ali’s profession. He took Larry Holmes to the restrict in 1981, dropping after 15 rounds by determination. When Berbick lastly received the WBC Heavyweight title in 1986 it appeared he was poised for a long term … till he ran right into a 20-year-old Mike Tyson. Berbick was a direct bridge from Ali to Tyson, and although he wasn’t at his peak when he went to Japan, he was nonetheless an enormous deal.

One downside: Berbick actually didn’t do his homework on his opponent. Nobuhiko Takada started skilled wrestling in 1981, and shortly caught the eye of New Japan Professional Wrestling’s Antonio Inoki. Takada turned Inoki’s proper hand man, carrying the torch of sturdy model around the globe. Takada wrestled extensively in Japan and Canada, working in opposition to the likes of Bret Hart, Dynamite Child and Davey Boy Smith — beautiful his opponents with brutal leg kicks and adherence to realism. Working in opposition to Takada wasn’t only a lesson in wrestling, however survival.

Trevor Berbick stepped into the ring On December 22, 1991 and it went off the rails instantly.

Within the first 20 seconds Takada delivered his first leg kick and Berbick had no concept what was taking place. He appealed to the referee to pressure Takada to solely kick above the belt, however to no avail. The third leg kick despatched Berbick reeling into the nook, clutching his knee and dropping his stability.

The barrage continued to Berbick’s calves and thighs, forcing him to seize the ropes for stability whereas he screamed in regards to the kicks being too low. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than he acquired his want for a better kick, as Takada blasted him in head when Berbick dropped his gloves to guard his legs.

Three extra kicks and it was over. Berbick escaped the ring and the world, quitting on the bout — realizing he completely couldn’t deal with the barrage coming his method. Within the lead as much as the battle Berbick boasted that if Takada kicked him it will “be World Battle III,” however in the long run he ran like a scared youngster.

The incident sparked large controversy. Berbick claimed he was the sufferer of a bait and swap, saying he was assured the battle can be performed below worldwide kickboxing guidelines, which didn’t enable kicks beneath the waist. The issue with this protection was that Berbick clearly wore leg protectors within the battle, which might point out that he no less than had some understanding he’d be kicked low.

UWFi officers mentioned that they repeatedly defined the foundations of the battle to Berbick, who didn’t need to take heed to the main points. This falls according to commentators on the occasion, who have been awestruck that Berbick would take offense to being kicked low.

It didn’t change the result both method. A embellished boxer went to Japan considering he’d KO his opponent in a couple of seconds, and as an alternative was left working on hobbled legs out the door.

Takada would finally transfer to the PRIDE combating championships in MMA, however by the point he entered in his 40s he was too outdated to have any form of impact. He stays a legendary determine in professional wrestling, and probably the most influential people on shaping the game within the nation.

The subsequent time somebody tells you that each one wrestling is faux, present them the time a boxer ran in terror from some leg kicks. It’d make them assume twice about slamming the game.

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