A Sumo Star Seeks New Kicks

All-night rice binges, clingy loincloths, a positively feudalistic promotion system--it's easy to see how sumo wrestling could get to be a grind. But when AKEBONO, the first foreign-born wrestler to achieve sumo's highest rank, retired from the ring in 2001, it was huge news. The 517-lb. Hawaiian, born Chad Rowan, brought glitter and cosmopolitanism to the ancient and solemn Japanese sport. Now Akebono, 34, is stunning the sumo world again with the announcement that he'll join Japan's brutal K-1 kickboxing league--a career move tantamount to Mikhail Baryshnikov's joining WWE SmackDown. "My zeal for combative sports never cooled down," Akebono says. Plus,...

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