Rookie Makes Sumo History After Winning Top Tournament

A sumo star was created in Japan when 24-year-old Takerufuji became the first wrestler in almost a century to win a tournament on his first try in the top division.

Despite sustaining an ankle injury the day before, which put him in a wheelchair outside the ring, Takerufuji upset higher-ranked Gonoyama on Sunday to win the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka.

Takerufuji’s rise to prominence is the fastest the traditional sport has ever seen.

It was only his 10th title overall, and it came just 18 months after he first stepped into sumo’s sacred “dohyo” ring as a contestant.

For the first time since 1914, a wrestler has won their first competition in the top “makuuchi” class.

As is customary, Takerufuji — real name Mikiya Ishioka — was paraded through the streets of Osaka in the back of a shining open-top automobile while people waved and applauded.

He told reporters on Saturday that he had given up hope after needing hospital treatment for an ankle-ligament injury that compelled him to use a wheelchair for a short time.

No. 17 maegashira-ranked sumo wrestler Takerufuji

“At that point, I had abandoned hope,” he said on Monday.

Then the highest-ranked wrestler, the yokozuna, “came to see me and he said: ‘You can do it. It’s not the outcome that matters, but the memory.”

Takerufuji stated that winning the event was a “far-fetched dream, so I never thought I would make it this far”.

Since his professional debut in September 2022, the teenage wrestler from Aomori, northern Japan, has only lost 10 battles and is on the rise.

He is so new that his hair has yet to grow long enough to be arranged in the most intricate topknot worn by competitors, according to Japanese media.

After winning the famous event, Takerufuji, who stands 1.84 metres (six feet) tall and weighs 143 kilograms (315 pounds), was awarded with a massive silver trophy in his purple loincloth.

His right ankle was wrapped, and his thighs were smeared with mud.

Leave a Reply