An outsider has beaten the odds to become a sumo champion and won fans’ hearts at the same time.
Tokushoryu was one of the lowest ranked competitors at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo, but beat ozeki Takakeisho to win his first trophy on Sunday night.
An ozeki is the second highest ranking in sumo, with yokozuna ranking one spot higher.
After he beat the ozeki, he burst into tears, a rare show of emotion in a typically stoic sport.
Speaking after the match, he said: “Deep down I’m feeling like, ‘Is it okay for me to win the championship?’
“I was the lowest-ranking fighter, I had nothing to fear. I just had to give it everything I had.”
Kyodo News reported he also won an Outstanding Performance Prize, the first of his 12-year career.
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At 33, he was an unlikely winner for many reasons, but said the next day: “It feels like a dream. I don’t feel like myself. I feel I’m walking on clouds.”
On shedding tears, he said: “I might have cried too much, but at that moment I felt relieved from all the pressure.”
He is the first bottom-ranked contestant to win in 20 years, and the first Nara-born wrestler to win the Emperor’s Cup in nearly 100 years.
He won hearts on Twitter, as fans praised his attitude and victory.
One compared the victory to a first division team winning the FA Cup, while others said he “absolutely deserved it”.
Expressing disappointment in the wrestler he follows, another added: “But seeing Tokushoryu’s emotional reaction made me smile. A yuusho well well earned.”
Another said: “Watching him cry and then seeing his dad cry too was actually touching. At the beginning of this basho, I had no opinion on Tokushoryu but now I’m genuinely happy for him.”
Yuusho is the Japanese term for championship, and basho refers to a tournament.
Source : Sky News