He has difficulties doing long bouts or torinaoshis. The reason is that he has another problem. He also has small lungs. Not a metaphor-he really has small lungs.
During keiko he is always out of breath. So much so that last May he went to a hospital to see what's wrong, where it was established that he has lungs half the normal size. That's why after every bout, it looks like he is about to die. That seems like something very dangerous for any professional athlete. "In sumo the action is short- lived so as long as I stick to that I'll get by.." he explained. His main problem in training is doing butsugari, which is done repeatedly and intensely. His Oyakata lets him do as much as he can and doesn't force the issue. "When he's breathing heavily he has no power so there's no use forcing him." explained the oyakata. He trains in a swimming pool by walking in the water to strengthen his cardio-pulmonary function and lower body strength.
He is half Filipino and grew up in Japan, doing kid sumo and even winning third place in a national tournament. Then, at age 14 he had to leave for the Philippines, where his life was very difficult. He couldn't adjust to the local food. When it rained his house was flooded and he had to work to help support his family. After a year and a few months he returned to Japan and joined Chiganoura. He sends money to his grandparents in the Philippines and hopes to improve their life.
His Oyakata regrets one thing. "When he was injured in January in his Juryo debut basho after starting 6-0, he went kyujo. Then, he came back a few days later for the KK and got it. I should have not allowed it. He has been suffering ever since and his injury deteriorated. Watching him still drag his feet even now fills me with remorse," said the Oyakata. Masunoyama's left foot injury happened in his Makuuchi debut basho in September on day 4 against Tochinowaka. He couldn't walk on his own for a while after that.
At present, he is afraid to get injured every time he gets on the dohyo. Still, he was injured again on day 3 of Kyushu in his bout against Nionoumi. Yet he continued, and to top it all off he caught a cold on day 11 and had a fever till the end of the basho.
"I hope to gambarize and get well soon. If I cure my injuries I'm pretty sure I can go far," he summed.
He's only 21, so he still has time.
Watch all his November bouts on Araibara's excellent youtube channel (day 7 especially..):
Edited by Kintamayama, 12 December 2011 - 14:16.