Sumo is a sport with a surprising amount of interesting characters.
For a lifestyle so intrinsically violent and harsh, it attracts a striking number of comedians and practical jokers.
Social media feeds of rikishi like Chiyomaru are filled with hilarious antics. Everything from scaring people with rubber cockroaches to shaking dozing rikishi awake just to tell them “you should try to sleep when you get a chance.”
One of the funniest rikishi in the sport is 30-year-old Asahisho. The Tomozuna stable veteran has such a good sense of humor that he has long been a regular on chat shows, despite only spending four tournaments in the top division and never passing the rank of No. 11 maegashira.
Virtually every time I’ve watched training at the Tomozuna stable or Oshima stable (where he was until 2012) Asahisho has had me in stitches.
Whether it’s begging senior wrestlers to let him stop because of exhaustion mere minutes into a practice session or throwing filthy looks and staring angrily at obvious first-time visitors throughout practice to freak them out, the Chiba native always seems to come up with something new.
The high point of his comedic career came in a 2014 fitness tracker commercial where he and three other wrestlers “played” fast-paced heavy metal while wearing mawashi.
Asahisho spent his first six years in sumo in the lower divisions and despite finally making the paid ranks in 2011, expectations were that he would be one and done in the juryo division.
Instead, he lasted half a dozen years as a sekitori and even got promoted to makuuchi twice before finally falling back into the lower divisions in 2017.
One of Asahisho’s most memorable moments came in 2012 when cameras caught him in floods of tears waiting outside the dressing room for longtime stablemate Kyokutenho, who had just won his first championship at the age of 37.