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Foreigners in Ozumo

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Foreigners in ozumo draw more interest in sumo abroad and they bring

innovative wrestling styles from their earlier disciplines into

traditional sumo. Many foreign fans are especially interested in following

foreign rikishi's careers. On the other hand Japanese rikishi still

comprise over 90% of all rikishi in sumo and under current regulations

limiting the amount of foreigners, this situation is unlikely to change

drastically unless doors are opened fully to all foreign aspirants hoping

to succeed in ozumo. Often foreign newcomers have substantial experience

in different kinds of grappling sports in their own countries.

There are over 50 foreigners in ozumo. The majority comes from Mongolia

but lately new recruits have entered sumo from Russia, Bulgaria, Czech,

China, Brazil, Tonga and Kazakhstan. Diversity in ozumo is growing. For a

long time there was a rule limiting the total amount of foreigners to 40

in all. This rule has been changed so that now there can be only one

foreigner per heya. Naturally the stables having had more than one

foreigner at the time this rule was implemented were allowed to keep their

foreigners but all stables that have either one foreigner or zero

foreigners fell under this rule. Theoretical maximum of foreigners in

ozumo is therefor the amount of heya (54) + the surplus present at the

time of the new rule implementation. There are only 6 stables now which

don't have foreigners which means that there are in theory 6 free spots

for new foreigner entrants.

Kintamayama has always updated info on all foreigners on his praised

Foreigner site including foreigners' records of recent basho, archives of

past basho performances, birthdays and list of stables with no foreigners

yet. - Main Foreigner Site - Birthdays - Heya with no foreigners

Here is Kintamayama's chapter about so called "closet foreigners":

Closet foreigners (written after Haru basho 2004)

Who is a "closet" foreigner"? It's a rikishi who is actually foreign born,

but his shusshin is listed as Japanese in the Kyokai files. For all

intents and purposes, he will not be regarded as a foreigner, and won't be

counted anywhere as one. This isn't something new. Only the reasons for

doing so seem to be different today. In the past there were quite a few

rikishi, some quite successful, that hid the fact that they were of

foreign descent. Most were from Korean or Chinese origin, but because of

the long history of discrimination by the Japanese against Koreans and

Chinese, chose to keep their real background a secret. Even the great ex-

Yokozuna Taiho came from a mixed family and was born on the Russian island

of Sakhalin. His father was Russian or Ukrainian, depending on your

source. Even though he achieved great acclaim and was revered throughout

Japan, he never fully acknowledged that he was a foreigner. Another famous

rikishi was Rikidozan, real name Kim Sin-Nak He

reached Sekiwake, but his real fame came as the man who single-handedly

made Pro-wrestling (Pro-resu) popular in Japan and was known as the

"Father of Proresu". He kept his Korean heritage a secret, which was only

revealed after his death. During the last Korean Jungyo, we discovered

that Musashigawa Oyakata was from a Korean background, as was ex-Yokozuna

Tamanoumi who died at the age of 27. Then there was Toyonishiki (active

between 1936-1944), who many regard as the "real" first foreign rikishi.

It is rumored he was an American citizen, and that he was born in

Colorado. Yet he even joined the Japanese army during WWII. All this is

history, though. What about the present? Well, it is becoming increasingly

difficult to try to "unearth" a closet foreigner. Most of them have lived

in Japan for many years, and received Japanese citizenship. They also

change their names to Japanese ones, so it's really difficult for us

living outside Japan to really find out who they are. There are ten that

I am certain of, led by long time yoyo and lately stabilized Kinkaiyama:








Ryukiyama-Korean- Hanakago



These were "unmasked" because their real names as listed on the Kyokai

pages gave them away.

Now we come to the "why". The possible reasons are:

1. Get a Japanese shusshin to make way for another foreigner in the heya.

2. You feel you are really Japanese.

3. You still feel it's better for you to conceal your true origin.

4. You have the citizenship, so why not?

5. It just isn't an issue anymore. It's like choosing a mawashi color.

Now, my "whys"..

1. Why did Ryuukiyama suddenly change shusshin form Korean to local after

January 2003? Hanakago already had its allocated one guy long before that.

2. Why do Kitanoumi and Sakaigawa have 2 "closet" and one "real"


3. At least one of them, Wakatenyuu, was listed as Korean when he

"enlisted". After Mae-zumo, he became Japanese.

OTOH, the new Korean from Takanohana-beya is listed as a Korean, yet he

has a Japanese name and has been living for many years with his family in


In summary, this is certainly not a scientific or accurate research, just

something a bit different perhaps which has dwelt on my mind for some time



Here is a brief introduction to the main foreigner rikishi of the moment:

In order of appearance in this thread:









Russians: Roho, Hakurozan, Amuru and Orora





A thread where forum's Mongolian members replied to questions about

Mongolia and Mongolian wrestling:

LonelyPlanet's Mongolia-pages:



Takasago-beya's Mongolian yokozuna who is known for his aggressive sumo

with versatile skill and lightning fast speed. Has an exceptional aversion

towards defeats and is a master in turning the tables even when he is

forced into defensive. Combination of strength, athleticism, speed,

immense will to rule the world, brutality and intensity. Born In September

in 1980 weighing around 140 kg. Expert in morozashi and low shitatenage.

Married with 1 daughter. Experience in Mongolian wrestling and college

sumo in Japan before turning pro. Father and brother known wrestlers. Has

6 yusho (after Haru 2004) on his mawashi and two zensho yusho.

Asashoryu on Kyokai's profile page:

Asashoryu's career's day by day results against sekitori:

Asashoryu's face to face records against sekitori:

Takasago-beya websites:

Kyokutenho & Kyokushuzan & Kyokutenzan

Unusual picture of Kyokutenho and Kyokutenzan in a suit. Picture was taken

in Mongolia when Kyokushuzan got married.




Kyokutenho as new komusubi


Kyokutenho and Asashoryu:


Oshima-beya duo who started the Mongolian wave into ozumo when they joined

in March 1992 along with Kyokutenzan (has spent most of his career in

makushita). They found ozumo a bit intimidating and tried to flee back to

Mongolia but Kyokutenzan turned their heads and the rest is history.

Kyokutenho is a very standard rikishi who never was much into tricks or

unconventional sumo. Yorikiri comprised a huge majority of his wins when

he was in juryo and as fresh makuuchi rikishi. In his later years he has

diversified his sumo a bit and goes more for throws, lift-outs and also

slapdowns. For a long time he was a middle maegashira rikishi who didn't

have the strength to challenge sanyaku but since the beginning of 2002 he

has racked up between 6 and 10 wins almost always when at high enough rank

to face all sanyaku rikishi. He has grown into Japanese culture quite

tangibly and wants to get Japanese citizenship and carry on as an oyakata

after his intai. Cheerful character. Born in September in 1974 weighing

around 150kg and carrying a tall frame of 191cm.

Kyokutenho on Kyokai's profile page:

Kyokutenho's career's day by day results against sekitori:

Kyokutenho's face to face records against sekitori:

Kyokushuzan at tire pulling keiko.


Kyokushuzan usually has a twinkle in the corner of his eye and is still

known for his unusual tricks. However, he was much more off-main stream

when he first entered sekitori ranks. He also revived such rare techniques

as zubuneri and sotomuso with his technical ingeniousity. Little by little

his sumo became less liberal and he started to win more bouts with more

common techniques. Nowadays he is especially known for his yanking sumo

having the best arm yank in the business and also for his pulling sumo.

Married with 2 children. He has been appointed to some kind of a good will

ambassador of Mongolia in Japan. Also one of the few rikishi who also

study aside from being a sumotori. Born in March in 1973 weighing around

140kg, won juryo yusho twice on his way to makuuchi.

Kyokushuzan in 1997:


Kyokushuzan on Kyokai's profile page:

Kyokushuzan's career's day by day results against sekitori:

Kyokushuzan's face to face records against sekitori:


Asasekiryu (left) with Asashoryu:


Asashoryu's Mongolian stablemate. Lesser version of Asashoryu with quite

different sumo style. Born in August in 1981 and is almost identical in

weight and height (exactly same height, 2kg lighter at 138kg at Hatsu 2004

weigh-in) with Asashoryu. Good technical versatility. Surprised with a

stellar 13-2 record in Haru 2004. Won juryo yusho on his way to makuuchi.

Asasekiryu on Kyokai's profile page:

Asasekiryu's career's day by day results against sekitori:

Asasekiryu's face to face records against sekitori:



New Mongolian marvel who gained over 20kg in the last year. Comes from a

well-known Mongolian wrestling family and entered sumo already at the age

of 16. Ascension towards juryo was somewhat unnoticed but starting from

the end of 2003 he has bloomed into a top class talent in ozumo.

Unpolished diamond whose development is followed intensely. Good at both

oshi and yotsu. Born in 1985 and belongs to Miyagino-beya which Kobo

inhabitates also as stablemate. 188cm/134kg bodily measurements at Hatsu

2004 weigh-in. He won juryo yusho in Haru 2004.

Hakuho on Kyokai's profile page:

Hakuho's career's day by day results against sekitori:

Hakuho's face to face records against sekitori:

Here is more information about Hakuho and his father:

Miyagino-beya site:


Lightest sekitori with only 106kg weight to go with 182cm height (at Haru

2004). Superb athlete with great oshi-sumo and very skillful throws and

trips. He belongs to Ajigawa-beya and is Aminishiki's stablemate. Won

yusho in sandanme in Haru 2002 as a 17 year old 89 kg youngster. Said back

then he wants to emulate the sumo of the likes of Asashoryu and

Aminishiki. Good genes as his father was a very strong wrestler in

Mongolia. Juryo debut in Haru 2004 was successful with 10-5 record.

Statistics speak for themselves. Between Kyushu 2001 and Haru 2004 he used

20 different winning techniques:

13 yorikiri

10 uwatenage

9 oshidashi

8 uwatedashinage

4 shitatenage

3 hatakikomi

3 hikiotoshi

3 yoritaoshi

2 ashitori

2 kakenage

2 kirikaeshi

2 sotogake

1 abisetaoshi

1 hikkake

1 shitatedashinage

1 shitatehineri

1 susoharai

1 tottari

1 tsukidashi

1 tsukiotoshi

1 uchigake

Ama on Kyokai's profile page:

Ama's career's day by day results against sekitori:

Ama's face to face records against sekitori:

Ajigawa-beya's website:

Ama-section with pictures of oyakata's recruitment trip to catch Ama

from Mongolia:


Tokitenku is the leg technician wizard whose tripping techniques have now

made their debut in juryo with good success. He entered ozumo at the age

of 22 in Nagoya 2002 having been studying in agricultural university in

Tokyo since 1999. He started his career with 24 consecutive wins

(including two play-off wins) before suffering his first defeat. Expert in

nimaigeri which is virtually non-existent otherwise in ozumo. Also deploys

uchigake and sotogake frequently. If there is a trick that can be done

with legs, Tokitenku has done it or will do it. Born in September in 1979.

185cm tall weighing around 130kg. His juryo debut in Haru 2004 brought him

kachi koshi (8-7). He belongs to Tokitsukaze-beya and has Tokitsuumi and

Shimotori as training partners.

Tokitenku on Kyokai's profile page:

Tokitenku's career's day by day results against sekitori:

Tokitenku's face to face records against sekitori:

Background information on Tokitenku:


Kokkai at the beginning of his ozumo career:


Georgian rikishi born in March in 1981. He has background in freestyle

wrestling before entering sumo in May 2001. He has risen rapidly to

makuuchi with his bulldozing sumo with unusually forward leaning style.

Awesome windmill tsuppari belongs to his repertoire as well as straight

forward pushing. Competent in yotsu-sumo too and overall a solid rikishi

with no major weaknesses if certain vulnerability in defense isn't counted

as such. Exhibits good-natured character and respectful post-bout

behavior. Belongs to Oitekaze-beya where his keiko partners are Hayateumi

and Hamanishiki amongst others. As an anecdote it can be mentioned that

his makuuchi debut preparation was hampered by an unconventional wound

injury he got while cutting food in a kitchen with a large knife.

Possesses considerable size (188cm/150+kg) and balanced body for sumo. Won

juryo yusho in Kyushu 2003 with an exceptional 14-1 record.

Kokkai on Kyokai's profile page:

Kokkai's career's day by day results against sekitori:

Kokkai's face to face records against sekitori:

Facts from his background in Georgia and news about his debut in ozumo:

Kokkai site:


Roho & Hakurozan & Amuru & Orora

Russian brothers Roho and Hakurozan joined ozumo at the same time in Natsu

2002. Roho is the bigger (193cm, around 145kg in Haru 2004), 2 years older

and stronger of the two (he was born in March in 1980 whereas Hakurozan

was born in Februaru in 1982). About their history and life before and

during the start of their careers in ozumo you can read in this long

translation by our very own language wizard Manekineko who translated the

original article into English from a Russian article where Roho and

Hakurozan were lenghtily interviewed. Loads of fascinating inside ozumo

stuff. Interview was made at the beginning of 2003.

Interview translation:

Roho on Kyokai's profile page:

Roho's career's day by day results against sekitori:

Roho's face to face records against sekitori:

Bandey's Roho- and Hakurozan pages including basic data and their career


Russian Sumo Federations's wrestlers introduction site where also Roho and

Hakurozan are shown and their pre-ozumo career stats:

Amuru is a lanky Russian who has background in boxing and based on Roho's

comments is a good cook too. Orora is a giant weighing over 200kg. His

whole family is gigantic so definite genetic predisposition for large

weight. Both Amuru and Orora compete in lower divisions. Both were born

in 1983.

Bandey's Orora-page including basic data and his career results:

Bandey's Amuru-page including basic data and his career results:




Kotooshu's makushita bout:


203cm Bulgarian who has superb physique. He is around 130kg mark (in March

2004) and has tremendous grip power. Very tenacious yotsu-rikishi with

nice throwing ability. He belongs to Sadogatake-beya and is stablemate to

Kotonowaka, Kotomitsuki and Kotoryu. He made his debut in ozumo in Kyushu

2002 and won makushita yusho in Haru 2004 with an unblemished 7-0 record.

Kotooshu's comments after clinching his juryo promotion in Haru 2004. Also

some background information:


Czech light-weight lanky youngster whose determination to join ozumo was

very strong and he has been progressing well. Latest result 4-3 at low

makushita was promising.

Takanoyama info:

Kazafuzan from Kazakhstan

Nishikido-beya's strongest talent who entered sumo in Kyushu 2003. Born in


His competition results before he entered ozumo:

2001 - bronze medal in team event at the world Junior championship

2002 - bronze medal at the Asian sumo championship (both team and

individual Open weight category)

2002 - gold in the Kazakhstan sumo tournament (Nauryz-2002)

2003 - gold in the Kazakhstan sumo student`s tournament (Academy of sports

and tourism prizes)

2003 - silver medal at the Kazakhstan free style wrestling championship

2003 - Awarded the rank -Master of sports in sumo(by the Ministry of

sports and tourism)

2003 - Awarded the rank- Master of sports in wrestling(by the Ministry of

sports and tourism)

Loads of info on him in the following links:

Edited by Rijicho

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Another famous rikishi was Rikidozan, real name Kim Sin-Nak He reached Sekiwake, but his real fame came as the man who single-handedly

made Pro-wrestling (Pro-resu) popular in Japan and was known as the

"Father of Proresu". He kept his Korean heritage a secret, which was only

revealed after his death.

Some vintage pro-wrasslin' footage of Rikidozan.

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