- Title: Japan's first Mongolian sumo stable master gains acceptance in traditional sport
- Date: 18th July 2017
- Summary: NAGOYA, JAPAN (JULY 5, 2017) (REUTERS) SUMO WRESTLERS' LEGS SUMO WRESTLERS GATHERED IN STABLE VARIOUS OF SUMO WRESTLERS FIGHTING IN RING SLOW MOTION OF SUMO WRESTLERS PUSHING EACH OTHER (MUTE) TWO SUMO WRESTLERS GOING HEAD TO HEAD VARIOUS SLOW MOTION OF SUMO WRESTLERS PUSHING EACH OTHER (MUTE) VARIOUS OF MONGOLIAN-BORN STABLE MASTER, KYOKUTENHO MASARU, LIFTING WEIGHTS OUTSIDE MAKESHIFT SUMO RING KYOKUTENHO WALKING INTO SUMO RING KYOKUTENHO GIVING INSTRUCTIONS TO WRESTLER VARIOUS OF WRESTLERS TRAINING INSIDE SUMO RING WRESTLERS CLAPPING AT THE END OF TRAINING FOOD PLACED ON TABLE WRESTLERS EATING LUNCH KYOKUTENHO EATING KYOKUTENHO AND WRESTLERS EATING (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) MONGOLIAN-BORN STABLE MASTER, KYOKUTENHO MASARU, SAYING: "I'm not really conscious about being a foreigner. I mean, we have to do our hair in the traditional 'chonmage' style, wear kimonos, wooden clogs and follow Japanese rules -- sumo rules. It just so happens that I am of a different nationality." VARIOUS OF MONGOLIAN WRESTLER KYOKUSHUHO GETTING HIS HAIR DONE IN TRADITIONAL 'CHONMAGE' STYLE (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) MONGOLIAN-BORN STABLE MASTER, KYOKUTENHO MASARU, SAYING: "Language was the biggest source of stress. When scolded, I could not understand what was being said to me, and when I was praised, I could not understand what I had done to receive that praise." KYOKUTENHO SIGNING AUTOGRAPH FOR SUMO FANS KYOKUTENHO SIGNING AUTOGRAPH AND POSING FOR PICTURE WITH SUMO FAN VARIOUS OF BRAZILIAN SUMO WRESTLER, KAISEI, FIGHTING INSIDE SUMO RING (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) BRAZILIAN SUMO WRESTLER, KAISEI ICHIRO, SAYING: "There is no difference on the basis that he (the wrestler) is a foreigner. It has to do with which sumo stable you were trained in, each stable trains in a different way." SUMO FANS WATCHING WRESTLERS TRAINS FROM OUTSIDE MAKESHIFT SUMO RING FANS WATCHING WRESTLERS TRAIN (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 59-YEAR OLD SUMO FAN, MASAKO FUKUTA, SAYING: "It is a world which is based on the skill of the person so I am cheering on the foreginers because they are training just as hard as the Japanese" (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 31-YEAR OLD SUMO FAN, HIDEMASA ITO, SAYING: "(Kyokutenho is) one of the pioneers among the Mongolian wrestlers who came to Japan, so this (becoming a stable master) is a very natural thing." VARIOUS OF KYOKUTENHO CARRYING BABY FOR GOOD LUCK
- Embargoed: 1st August 2017 08:27
- Keywords: Japan sumo wrestler Mongolia stable master Kyokutenho Kaisei Kyokutaisei Nagoya
- Location: TOKYO / NAGOYA, JAPAN
- City: TOKYO / NAGOYA, JAPAN
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Human Interest / Brights / Odd News,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA0016QDRUJD
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: PART AUDIO AS INCOMING
The sound of bodies slapping against each other rocks the stifling sumo "stable" in the central Japanese city of Nagoya, as 11 huge wrestlers wearing loincloths take turns throwing each other out of a ring of sand.
The training takes places under the watchful eyes of Kyokutenho Masaru, better known by his fighting name Kyokutenho, Japan's first Mongolian-born "oyakata", or sumo master.
In June this year, the 42-year-old assumed the helm of the prestigious "Tomozuna beya," a stable with a 260-year history.
Entering the sumo world entails adopting Japanese traditions from food to samurai-style topknot hairstyles and a rigid hierarchy.
The tough training and tradition-bound ways have put off many local youth from the sport, leaving sumo to be dominated by foreign - mainly Mongolian - wrestlers, who endure a gruelling path to assimilation.
"Language was the biggest source of stress," Kyokutenho said recalling his struggles when, aged 16, he became one of the first six Mongolians to be inducted into the sport in 1992. "When scolded, I could not understand what was being said to me, and when I was praised, I could not understand what I had done to receive that praise."
Today, the one-time champion, who was born Nyamjavyn Tsevegnyam, speaks near-flawless Japanese, has a Japanese wife, and has given up his Mongolian nationality to become Japanese -- a requirement to become a sumo master.
After ending practice at 10:30 a.m., the wrestlers mingle with fans, sign autographs and pose for photos before the first of their two daily meals.
Lunch, prepared by the junior wrestlers, is a spread of pig's feet, grilled and deep-fried sardines, steamed rice, and "chanko nabe" - a signature hot-pot dish associated with sumo wrestlers, who are said to consume 8,000 calories a day.
Though many fans today express support toward foreign-born wrestlers, breaking into the sumo world has not been easy for them, sumo critics said. In the 90s when foreign wrestlers entering the field, judges from the sumo association spread the message that "no foreign wrestlers were needed".
Ahead of the first tournament in which he will take part in as oyakata, Kyokutenho says he does not think of himself as an outsider anymore.
"I'm not really conscious about being a foreigner. I mean, we have to do our hair in the traditional 'chonmage' style, wear kimonos, wooden clogs and follow Japanese rules -- sumo rules. It just so happens that I am of a different nationality," he said.
Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament ends on Sunday (July 23).
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