A Japanese pro-wrestler-turned-politician has arrived in North Korea with a former NFL lineman and more than a dozen martial artists for the first big sports event featuring well-known foreigners since Dennis Rodman's controversial basketball game earlier this year.

Japanese parliamentarian Kanji "Antonio" Inoki says he hopes the event will open a door of sports diplomacy with the North.

Bob "The Beast" Sapp, who briefly played American pro football before switching to mixed martial arts and gaining celebrity status in Japan, will lead the foreigners who arrived Thursday for the exhibition, to be held in a 15,000-seat arena in Pyongyang on Saturday and Sunday. It will also feature local martial artists and musical acts.