There are currently seven Nippon Sport Science University graduates in professional sumo.
Hokutofuji at komusubi is the highest ranked, and the Saitama native appears to be on course to overtake recently retired Yoshikaze as their college’s most successful ever rikishi.
Another man, Myogiryu, likely would have taken that title were it not for a devastating knee injury sustained in a bout with Gagamaru in his 2010 jūryō division debut.
Despite returning to the ring eight months later and eventually working his way up to sumo’s third-highest rank of sekiwake, Myogiryu never had the same incredible ability to drop his hips low and spring forward that he displayed right after turning pro.
He persevered, however, and has even had success in his 30s with four wins over yokozuna in the past 16 months.
Myogiryu also has the distinction of being (along with Toyohibiki) the only rikishi suspected of being terrorists while abroad.
The pair’s size and unusual appearance raised the suspicions of a police officer one night in Jakarta, during the Japan Sumo Association’s 2013 Indonesian tour.
The officer in question shouted at the taxi they were in to stop, made the wrestlers get out and searched their luggage before being satisfied they weren’t planning any attacks — at least outside the ring.
The irony of course is that Myogiryu famously (at 22 percent) has one of the lowest body fat percentages in sumo and has even taken part in commercials showcasing that fact.
Weight training, sports science and supplement use have all long been part of Myogiryu’s routine.
It’s not known if he plans to stay in sumo after retirement, but were he to run his own stable someday it’d be interesting to see just how his modern training and coaching methods would mesh with sumo’s more traditional approach.
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