First Ukrainian-Born Wrestler Shishi’s Real Reputation– His Secret Connection to Japan’s Sumo Wrestling | FRIDAY DIGITAL

First Ukrainian-Born Wrestler Shishi’s Real Reputation– His Secret Connection to Japan’s Sumo Wrestling

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Shishi (left) makes a powerful uwage-nage (upper arm throw).

Warm applause echoed through the pavilion. The giant, 191-cm tall, 165-kg Rikishi won the ninth day of the March tournament (March 21).

On this day, Shishi (25), the 17th rank in the Nishi makushita, knocked down his opponent with a powerful thrust. He is the only rikishi from Ukraine, which is still in conflict with Russia. In Melitopol, the southern city where Shishi was born, the mayor of the city was abducted by Russian soldiers who put a plastic bag over his head (he has since been released). The city is still occupied by Russian troops. What kind of person is Shishi, who continues to stand in the ring while worrying about the plight of his homeland?

Otsukare-sama de gozaimasu.

Whenever he meets a senior rikishi or a stablemaster, Shishi is said to greet them politely in the Japanese he has just learned. His first sumo ring was in March 2008, and after two years of training, he seems to have finally gotten used to life in Japan.

His real name is Sokolovsky Sergiy, and he started wrestling at the age of six and switched to sumo when he was 15. I belong to the Irumagawa stable. His master (former Sekiwake Tochiji) is a graduate of Nihon University, and the Irumagawa stable has a strong connection with the university. Nihon University is influential in the amateur sumo world, and it seems that he joined the Irumagawa stable through that route.

He has plenty of ability. He even won the European Sumo Championships. He has a good physique, and when he joined the stable, he was already outmatched by the younger members of the stable. Wakafuji, the stablemaster, said, “He is a mini-Baruto (a former ozeki from Estonia). He will be in the makuuchi ranks soon. He is serious and eager to train. I think he can move up to juryo by the end of the year.

Grand Yokozuna whose father is Ukrainian

He steps on the four-legs in the ring. He is said to be serious and eager to practice.

Shishi lost in the September 2009 tournament due in part to an injury to his left hand, but has won every other tournament he has participated in. It is no wonder that the stablemasters are so impressed with him. If Shishi continues to perform well, he should be an encouragement to the people of his homeland.

Although Ukraine does not seem to have much to do with sumo, it has a curious connection with Japan.

The father of Taiho, the Showa-era yokozuna who won 32 Makuuchi (makuuchi) championships, is Ukrainian. He was from Kharkov, the second largest city in Japan, and was a Cossack officer named Markan Borishko. He defected to Japan during the Russian Revolution, settled in Minamikarafuto (now Sakhalin Oblast), and married a Japanese woman. Taiho was born there.

Unfortunately, Borishko was detained by the former Soviet army during World War II and sent to a concentration camp. …… (Taiho escaped with his mother to Hokkaido). After his retirement, Taiho visited his father’s hometown, Kharkov, as a stablemaster. He contributed to the strengthening of friendly relations with Ukraine by holding the “Taiho Sumo Tournament. A memorial hall was built in Kharkiv, and Taiho was awarded the Order of Friendship.

Ukraine is also the root of the great Yokozuna of the Showa period. Shishi, the first rikishi from that country, is aiming for promotion to the makuuchi division as the hope of his war-torn homeland.

Showa-era yokozuna Taiho, whose father is Ukrainian
  • Photo Jiji Press

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