Making a Big Move

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Fighting Back: Akebono says he was forced out of sumo

Posted Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Throughout the 1990s, American-born sumo wrestler Akebono was the biggest thing—literally and figuratively—to hit Japan's national sport in decades. In a contest where size matters, he was superlative, standing 2.04 meters tall and weighing a record-breaking 235 kilograms. But it wasn't just his gigantic stature that distinguished the former basketball star from Kaiser High School in Oahu (where he was known as Chad Rowan). Although a few foreign wrestlers—such as fellow Americans Konishiki and Takamiyama—had previously excelled at Japanese sumo, Akebono reached the highest echelons of the sport. He helped make 1990s sumo an unprecedented epoch...