Pyongyang about to enter the rough and tumble world of pro-wrestling

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 4:13pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 4:20pm


The wild world of professional wrestling is heading to North Korea.

The authoritarian nation locked in a long stand-off with its neighbours and the United States over its nuclear bomb ambitions yesterday announced plans for an international pro-wrestling match in the capital, Pyongyang, in late August.

“World renowned pro-wrestlers” from Japan, the US and other countries will take part, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said. It provided few other details.

It said a former professional wrestler turned Japanese lawmaker, Kanji Inoki, would head the organising committee, along with the chairman of North Korea’s International Martial Arts Games Committee.

Inoki, perhaps best known in the United States for his exhibition bout with boxer Muhammad Ali in the 1970s, is a regular visitor to North Korea and organised another pro-wrestling event in Pyongyang in 1995.

Despite the recent high-profile arrests and detentions of foreign tourists, impoverished North Korea is keen to earn cash revenue by boosting tourism. It has highlighted group tours to major arts performances or attractions the country wants to show off.

North Korea has announced plans to create special trade and tourism zones. It has also unveiled its first luxury ski resort, aimed largely at luring ski enthusiasts from abroad.

Earlier this year it allowed foreign amateur runners to compete for the first time in the annual Pyongyang marathon.