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Famous People





Fat Bastard | Akebono | Emanuel Yarbrough | Ozeki Konishiki | Ganryu










Fat Bastard

Sumo debut in the movie, Austin Powers: Goldmember


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Born Chad Rowan in Waimanalo, Hawaii, Akebono is the first non-Japanese yokozuna, or grand champion, in the two thousand year history of sumo. An honor student in high school in Hawaii, Rowan was first spotted as a teenager by sumo recruiter Larry Aweau, who was impressed by the natural grace of the 6'8" future yokozuna while he was serving as a pallbearer at a family funeral. Shipped off to Japan, he became the protégé of Jesse Kuhaulua and was given the name Akebono, which means dawn or rising sun. In a sport where a low center of gravity is considered crucial, sumo cognoscenti scoffed at the prospects for so tall a wrestler. (Rowan had been a basketball player as well as a wrestler in high school.) But Akebono quickly proved his doubters wrong, and in 1993, he donned the ceremonial white cloth belt of the grand champion. Hampered over the past few years by a chronic knee injury, Akebono rebounded in late 2000, winning two out of three straight tournaments before announcing his retirement in 2001 at the age of 31. More recently, he has stepped out of retirement to enter the popular new combat sport of K-1.


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Emanuel "Manny" Yarbrough

A 6'8" 757-pound former college football player, Yarbrough is arguably the world's most famous amateur sumo wrestler. He is a seven-time member of the U.S. national sumo team and the 1995 amateur world champion in the open weight division. Yarbrough was recruited into sumo by his judo instructor, Yoshisada Yonezuka, the Japanese-born coach of the 1988 and 1992 U.S. Olympic judo teams, who now runs a martial arts studio in Cranford, New Jersey where Yarbrough continues to train. Articulate and witty, he has appeared in numerous television programs and print periodicals including Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, The Tonight Show and The Late Show , as well as on MTV and music videos for artists such as Ice-T.


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Ozeki Konishiki

Born Salevaa Atisanoe and raised in the small O‘ahu town of Nanakuli, Konishiki was the first true American superstar in professional sumo. Discovered while bodysurfing in Waikiki, he joined pro sumo in the early 80s, shortly after graduating from high school, where he was an accomplished football player and power lifter. Within two years he had rocketed to the top ranks of the sport, challenging the top sumotori for the Emperor's Cup and provoking a storm of controversy in Japan with both his rapid ascent and his blunt and outspoken manner. Konishiki's sheer size (he fought at more than 600 pounds) prompted charges that he and other Hawaii-born sumotori were damaging the sport by emphasizing size over technique. Critics invoked Commodore Perry's "black ships," a common reference when Japan feels threatened by the outside (and especially by the United States), but one that carried specific racial overtones because of Konishiki's Polynesian heritage and dark coloring. Years later, countercharges of discrimination were leveled when Konishiki was denied promotion to yokozuna under the somewhat ad hoc rules governing such matters, an act viewed by many as a transparently xenophobic attempt to keep an outsider from attaining this exalted status. (He was forced to settle for ozeki, the second highest rank in sumo.) Ironically, it was near the end of his career, when he was dropping down the ranks and had become an underdog for perhaps the first time, that Konishiki truly won over the Japanese public. Now retired, the quick-witted and engaging American remains a popular celebrity throughout Japan, a ubiquitous presence with his many television appearances, rap records and commercial endorsements.


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Ganryu is a sumo wrestler of great merit, who competes in the Tekken fighting tournaments. He is also the youngest fighter ever to gain the "Ozeki". Once this title was gained, many who watched the sport (including a certain bandit leader, Yoshimitsu) thought Ganryu would reap the rewards and challenge fot the title of "Yokozuna"; a title he was more than capable of winning, but his immoral style (such as starting bouts with fire breathing and a fanfare whilst taunting his opponents, and also a bad gambling habit) lead to a dishonourable discharge and gave Ganryu the chance to join the crime world. This path of life lead Ganryu into pursuing one overriding purpose; to become the world's strongest man in a move that he feels is just and honourable. This of course lead to his arrival into the first tournamnet where he was defeated by a one time fan, Yoshimitsu. Noticing his skill, Kazuya hired the sumo once he retook the Mishima estate, paying him more than enough to feed his gambling addiction.


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