Are you keen to uncover the long history of the sport and the biggest sumo wrestlers ever?
Japanese-style wrestling is particularly unique with its fighting rules and has been Japan’s national sport for several centuries. The true origin is lost in no time, with Nomi, no Sukune (bulky muscular man) recognised as the founder of sumo wrestling. The hand-to-hand combat sport is closely linked to the Shinto religion, with men displaying their strength in front of the gods. Before we dive into unearthing the biggest sumo wrestlers, let’s throw some light on more-or-less understated facts.
Some sumo wrestling facts:
- A known wrestling ritual takes place before the start of the match when the participant raises one leg and stamps down on the ground many times.
- The win is declared when a wrestler forces the wrestler down to the ground or pushes him out of the rope ring.
- A wrestler’s average height and weight remain 185 cm and 150 kgs, respectively.
- Sumo wrestlers are prohibited from driving.
- The sumo life is difficult. They have a life expectancy of 60 years, which is almost 20 years less than a Japanese male.
- To depict an act of purification, sumo wrestlers often throw salt across the floor or outside the ring.
- Sumo wrestlers are banned from driving cars; sounds absurd, uh?
- They are not allowed to dress or behave the way they like.
- Lastly, women are forbidden from entering the sumo ring.
Top 5 biggest sumo wrestlers ever!
- Orora Satoshi
Here’s a man leading the cult sport who definitely qualifies to be the heaviest sumo wrestler. Orora Satoshi weighed about 292.6 kg while fighting the highest makushita sumo division in Tokyo’s Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament. Orora’s weight was more than all his opponents. He fought against Ohara (83 kgs) while Orora was 190 kgs in 2012. The match delineated the largest disparity in the history of sumo.
His winning technique has been a tap-out or a powerful force-out. However, his heavyweight has restricted his speed and agility and been a hindrance in his battles.
Fun Fact: In 2017, Orora Satoshi became the heaviest sumo wrestler by surpassing his records and reaching 288 kgs.
- Yamamotoyama Ryuta
A retired Japanese sumo wrestler, 2-time division champion, 12 makuuchi champions and the highest Magashira ranking. Yamamotoyama carries an astonishing weight of 265 kgs and is believed to be one of the heaviest Japanese alive. The wrestler has an interesting career graph with victory in abundant National and International Sumo championships. Yamamotoyama aimed to be the biggest sumo wrestler and targeted reaching 325 kgs. To your shock, he ate 146 pieces of sushi in one sitting.
A match-fixing scandal ended his sphere and forced him into retirement in 2011, post which he was seen in reality shows and minor film roles. Debuted in 2007, he broke the record of being the largest new recruit, weighing 233 kgs.
Fun Fact: In 2012, he made a grand entry in India’s biggest reality show- Big Boss.
- Konishiki Yasokichi
The Hawaiian-born and raised sumo champion Konishiki Yasokichi is the first non-Japenese to reach Ozeki, the sport’s second-highest level. He’s an all-time ‘heavy wrestler’ and stands tall in the second position. To his glory, he was also popularly known as the biggest sumo wrestler until Orora replaced him in 2017. During his 15 years of professional journey, he earned some laudative nicknames, ‘Meat Bomb’ and ‘Dump Truck’.
After ranking as the second heaviest sumo wrestler, Konishiki won three Top Division Championships and became the first non-Japenese ‘Yokozuna’. By 1992 he was the winner of all matches, and in 1996, he won the title of the biggest and the heaviest sumo wrestler. Konishiki was promoted to the rank of Ozeki in 1987 and won a total of 730 matches. The American former sumo wrestler impressed the crowd with his fighting spirit and amiable personality.
Fun Fact: Konishiki Yasokichi contributed massively to the 2011 earthquake in Japan.
- Kenho Mitsuo
Born in 1989, Kenho Mitsuo weighed a gigantic 204 kgs at the age of 32. Thereafter, nothing could stop him from qualifying as one of the biggest sumo wrestlers. The Japanese fighter stood at 180 cm and trained in the Tokitsukaze stable. Kenho excelled with his unique skills and outstanding fighting abilities. He achieved the highest ranking of Makushita 59 and portrayed a promising future.
With an intimidating weight and height, he assured injury-free conquest. He succeeded in the game of heaviest sumo wrestlers and made a defined statement in the national sumo championships.
Fun Fact: He was one of the few wrestlers to weigh so much at a young age.
- Taiho Koki
Taiho debuted in 1956 and became the 48th yokozuna in 1961 at the young age of 21. Gladly, it took him only four years to enter the makuuchi division. He was the youngest wrestler to become a yokozuna and was a clear legend in Japan. Taiho won 32 makuuchi championships and bagged the second-best winning streak in sumo history.
In a brief period of 1968-1969, Taiho Koki won 45 consecutive times and also broke all records for six decades. He won 32 tournament championships between 1960 and 1971 which was an unequalled record until 2014. Koki is the only wrestler to win a minimum of one championship every year. On his death (in 2013), Taiho was regarded as a mentor and cited as the greatest sumo wrestler of the post-war period. In 2004, he was awarded the Medal with Purple Ribbon by the Japanese government.
Fun Fact: On retirement, Taiho became a health coach but underwent restricted success due to his health problems.
One Last Thought:
Some honourable mentions include- Akebono Taro, Chiyonofuji Mitsugu, Susanoumi Yoshitaka, Musashimaru Koyo and Dwanojo Shuta.
The quintessential Japanese sport is like no other. If you are curious about how these biggest sumo wrestlers reach the weight they are at, a large credit to their unique dietary intake, which gets them bigger than normal. The rolly-polly sport dates back centuries with bone-shuddering rules, Shinto religion and Japanese culture.
PS: In a spree of easy sports, wrestling takes a backseat.