Fired sumo wrestler opens eatery

Kyodo

Former ozeki Kotomitsuki is taking up a new profession: instead of pounding flesh, he’ll be broiling it.

The 36-year-old Keiji Tamiya, who was fired and banished for life from sumo in July 2010 for betting on professional baseball games, told the media Friday he will be opening a Korean-style barbecue restaurant in Nagoya’s Nishi Ward.

“I don’t feel as if I have retired since I still have my topknot,” said Tamiya, whose eatery Yamitsuki (Addiction) opens Sunday.

The former wrestler, who reached sumo’s second-highest rank in the elite makuuchi division, is still embroiled in a lawsuit with the Japan Sumo Association over his dismissal, but has all but moved on.

“The reality is I won’t be reinstated as a wrestler. I would have loved to have become a coach of a sumo stable and train my own wrestlers, but that’s impossible now,” he said.

Even after he was fired, Tamiya continued to train with the hopes of returning to the ring, but eventually fell into a deep depression. “I thought my life was over. My mind went blank.”

Things got so bad that he basically became a recluse for about 18 months. But with the encouragement of his family and other wrestlers, he eventually bounced back. Ex-coach Otake, who was fired with Tamiya, urged him to open the eatery.