Japan hails first home-grown sumo grand champion in 19 years

Sumo wrestler Kisenosato became the first Japanese born and bred grand champion in nearly two decades, ending foreign-born wrestlers' domination of the ancient sport.

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

New Year Grand Sumo Tournament winner Kisenosato Yutaka stretches his legs during a press conference at his Tagonoura stable in Tokyo, a day after ending the tournament with a 14-1 record, in this photo taken by Kyodo on January 23, 2017.

Updated Jan 26, 2017

Japan rejoiced on Wednesday as sumo wrestler Kisenosato became the first Japanese born and bred grand champion in nearly two decades, ending foreign-born wrestlers' domination of the ancient sport's top rank.

Sumo, which features giant wrestlers clad only in loincloths, has seen such an influx of foreign grapplers over the last 50 years that prior to this week all three grand champions – known as yokozuna – were Mongolian. Hawaiian-born Americans have also held the rank.

Until January 2016 a homegrown rikishi, as the wrestlers are known, hadn't even won a tournament championship for a decade.

But all this changed on Wednesday, when 30-year-old Kisenosato was promoted to yokozuna, becoming the first native Japanese to attain the sport's most exalted rank since 1998.

TRT World's Christine Pirovolakis has the story.

 

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies