Ōrora (right) loss Kiryu in his critical match prior to retirement, in ~ the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo in September 2018. Photograph: Kyodo News/Kyodo News Stills/Getty Images
Ōrora (right) defeat Kiryu in his critical match before retirement, in ~ the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo in September 2018. Photograph: Kyodo News/Kyodo News Stills/Getty Images
Ōrora, that hit 292kg prior to he retired, warns wrestlers require to treatment of us after death of partner from coronavirus



Japan’s sumo wrestlers should rein in their huge appetites and also take much better care of your health. The advice comes no from physicians or nutritionists, but from a previous wrestler who weighed much more than any type of other man in the sport’s lengthy history.

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“It’s never ever easy come stay healthy as long as you’re life the life that a sumo wrestler,” Ōrora, a retired professional wrestler, or rikishi, stated in a recent interview with the Asahi Shimbun, shortly after a young wrestler passed away after contracting coronavirus. “You room the only human being that can take treatment of yourself. Nobody in your sumo secure cares about you.”

The Russian wrestler, who currently uses his “civilian” name, Anatoly Mikhakhanov, said the sumo course to getting weight – 2 gargantuan meals a work separated by an afternoon nap – was placing wrestlers’ wellness at risk.

The threats of a way of living that combines intense physicality and bulk-building food intake were underlined last month as soon as Shobushi, a wrestler in one of the lower skilled ranks, passed away from Covid-19. Physicians who treated the 28-year-old stated he had actually several chronic health conditions.

The sumo diet staple chanko nabe – a stew packed with meat, fish and also vegetables – is high in protein and low in fat. However Mikhakhanov, who retired in 2018, to know to his cost how press to heap on the pounds can tempt wrestlers into consuming much more than the 4,000 calorie they need to refuel after gruelling early-morning training sessions.

Weighing an currently hefty 190kg when he turn professional, Mikhakhanov saw his weight rise to 292.6kg shortly before he retired. In 2017, he ended up being the heaviest professional rikishi ever before at 288kg, beating the record previously organized by the Hawaii-born Konishiki, who tipped the scales at 285kg.

Mikhakhanov would regularly polish off 200 pieces of sushi and also a crate the beer, and found it difficult to refuse supplies of extra bowls the rice from senior stablemates. Together a result, he suffered from hypertension and also struggled come fight turn off fatigue.

“I would lie down right after eating, which wasn’t good,” he told the newspaper. “Just walking or relocating was really troublesome.”


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Shobushi died aged 28 in May. Photograph: Avalon.redThe 37-year-old has due to the fact that swapped his two large meals a work for five smaller meals, and also regular walks and gym sessions have helped that shed much more than 100kg. “Of course, you can not train unless you eat, yet there’s no allude in making you yourself ill,” the said.

Mikhakhanov was no alone in struggling to save his eating actions in check. “Wrestlers in the highest makuuchi department weigh and average the 160.2kg – 15kg heavier than three years ago, and also have an mean body mass table of contents of more than 47, when medical experts warn that a BMI of 30 or higher indicates obesity.

With thousands of wrestlers divided into 45 stables, some space bound come let temptation acquire the far better of them, according to man Gunning, a previous amateur sumo wrestler who now commentates and also writes around the sports in Japan.

“Some are very diligent about what they eat; part aren’t,” says Gunning, whose weight doubled come 120kg within 2 years of making his debut in 2004. “The bigger and heavier you space the much better you’ll be. This is no an aerobic sport. If you want to be an excellent you have actually to get big, and that can come at the price of her health.”

While other intense contact sports such as rugby and American football have adopted new approaches to training and nutrition, Japan’s de facto nationwide sport is anchored to tradition.

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“There is pressure on wrestlers to obtain bigger and also stronger, yet there has actually been no significant change in training methods or nutrition,” says Gunning, who stood for Ireland three times in ~ the sumo civilization championships. “They’re law the same exercise routines, eating the very same things and also living the same lifestyle as 20 years ago … or 200 years ago.”

The Japan Sumo Association has published 10 health and wellness guidelines that include eating fish and also vegetables, in enhancement to meat, chewing food properly and avoiding crisps, cakes and also other snacks. The association conducts constant health check on wrestlers, yet enforcing good eating habits is practically impossible amongst stables with contrasting attitudes towards nutrition and health.

“Most wrestlers room in your late teens and early 20s in a testosterone-fuelled support. Lock fighting every day and also they don’t have much freedom,” states Gunning. “The pressure builds yet there’s no way to release it. Overeating relieves stress and gets girlfriend big. I did it myself.”