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Bottom-Ranked Sumo Wrestler Burst Into Tears After Winning First Championship


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    A sumo wrestler who entered Japan’s first major tournament of the year at the lowest rank broke down in tears after beating the odds and finishing at the top.

    Tokushoryu, who had just moved up from the second division, fought his way to a 14-1 record at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday, earning the coveted Emperor Cup.


    Standing 1.81 meters (5 feet and 9 inches) and weighing 188 kilograms (414 pounds), Tokushoryu beat ozeki (second-highest rank) Takakeisho (11-4) to win his first top-division championship in his 11-year career.

    “This is amazing. What have I done,” the 33-year-old told Kyodo News. “I might have cried too much, but at that moment I felt relieved from all the pressure.”

    Takakeisho (left) and Tokushoryu (right) face off on finale of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament. Image Screenshot via NHK General TV / Jason’s All-Sumo Channel

    For the first time in his career, Tokushoryu also won two of the three post-tournament prizes, namely the Outstanding Performance Prize and the Fighting Spirit Prize.

    “It feels like a dream,” he said. “I don’t feel like myself. I feel I’m walking on clouds.”

    Tokushoryu defeats Takakeisho. Image Screenshot via NHK General TV / Jason’s All-Sumo Channel

    Tokushoryu explained that his victory came largely as a result of intense focus — while keeping in mind that he had nothing to lose.

    “Deep down I’m feeling like, ‘Is it okay for me to win the championship?’ I was the lowest-ranking fighter, I had nothing to fear. I just had to give it everything I had,” he told Kyodo News.

    Tokushoryu cries after clinching the Emperor’s Cup. Image Screenshot via NHK General TV / Jason’s All-Sumo Channel

    Aside from proving that he could make it, Tokushoryu had one important reason to clinch the cup: Katsuhito Ito, his mentor and coach at Kindai University’s sumo club, died at 55 just a week ago.

    “I should do it for him,” he thought, according to Asahi Shimbun.

    Image Screenshot via NHK General TV / Jason’s All-Sumo Channel

    Tokushoryu’s victory marks the first time a bottom-ranked sumo wrestler won a top-division title since March 2000. That champion was Takatoriki, who finished 13–2 against Miyabiyama.

    Fans celebrated Tokushoryu on Twitter:

    Feature Image Screenshots via NHK General TV / Jason’s All-Sumo Channel

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