Photo Credit: heschong@flickr
We can see a lot of foreign players in major sports league. For example, in the soccer premier league in England, many players are from foreign countries including Japan. Also in Major League Baseball there are players who are from various countries. Internationalization of sports leagues in the domestic country raise the level of the competition, and audience are more amused by their high techniques and strength. Sumo, one of Japanese traditional martial arts, is not an exception. You can see a lot of foreign sumo wrestlers in Ozumo, a kind of professional sumo league in Japan. And we Japanese admit that some of them are superior to regular Japanese wrestlers. Let me talk about a few foreign sumo wrestlers in the following paragraphs.
As I mentioned earlier, sumo is the traditional martial arts in Japan. However, there have not been Japanese Yokozuna for more than ten years since Takanohana, the last Japanese Yokozuna, retired in 2003. Instead, there are currently three Mongolian Yokozunas: Hakuho, Harumafuji, and Kakuryu. Besides them, there are several Mongolian sumo wrestlers in the high rank. This is because sumo is popular in Mongol and this country supply a lot of wrestlers who have a lot of potential.
Among these Mongolian sumo wrestlers, Hakuho is by far the strongest Yokozuna because he has won sumo tournament 35 times, which is the highest number of winning the tournament. It can be said that he had prevented Japanese sumo wrestlers from winning a sumo tournament before Kotoshogiku finally achieved winning in January 2016. Now he is thinking of establishing his own stable after his retirement and has already had his own students.
Several other foreign sumo wrestlers are from Eastern European countries, such as Russian, Estonia, and Georgia. They used to play other sports, such as Judo and wrestling. Their advantage are their huge body and the power. They are much bigger than regular Japanese sumo wrestlers. So are their power. Even though they are Eastern European, they do not hesitate to wear Mage (topknot) and Fundoshi, a traditional underwear which looks like T-buck underwear, and they really respect Japanese conventional customs in the sumo world.
Gagamaru is the one of eastern European sumo wrestlers. He is from Georgia and weigh about 200 kg. He is popular sumo wrestler because of his strength and his character. Pushing opponents by using his heavy body is really wonderful, but he tried to lose weight because he like to keep his body balance and it is a little bit embarrassing for him to weigh more than 200 kg. Also his friendly character cute smile increase the number of his fans. A funny thing is that his favorite singer is Lady “Gaga”.
There is just a one sumo wrestler from Africa. Osunaarashi is a sumo wrestler who is from Egypt. He was an amateur sumo wrestler and has achieved the third place in junior sumo international competition of the light weight class. Since He started his career as a professional sumo wrestler just in 2012, He has promoted rapidly and is now in high rank. Because he also used to be a body builder, his strong upper body is one of his good points. As we can see among other foreign sumo wrestlers, he improved his Japanese language skills so rapidly that now he can answer the question from Japanese interviewers.
A lot of sumo wrestler has come from various foreign countries. Besides sumo wrestlers I mentioned before, there are more foreign wrestlers in high rank. The more popular sumo become in the world, the more potential sumo wrestlers come to Japan. If you find out a sumo wrestler who is from the same country as yours, you should check him out.