Suyama, the first wrestler to graduate from the University of Tokyo, “a temporary ronin at Keio,” a surprisingly hard worker. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Suyama, the first wrestler to graduate from the University of Tokyo, “a temporary ronin at Keio,” a surprisingly hard worker.

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Suyama smiles in front of his stable. Suyama is the first rikishi from Tokyo University to challenge for sekitori (Image: Kyodo News)
Suyama said, “My goal (for the ranking) is to become Todai-zeki. Since I am from the University of Tokyo.”Suyama Hotaka (24, Kise stable), who won his first white star on May 10 at the previous sumo tournament, smiled at the press as he said, “Suyama, who passed the new apprentice test on May 8, is a senior in the philosophy department of the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Letters.” Suyama is the fourth wrestler from a national university to become a rikishi, and the first from the University of Tokyo. 

Suyama’s career is unique, and he has come a long way before becoming a University of Tokyo student.

Suyama graduated from Urawa Municipal High School in Saitama Prefecture, and after a year of studying abroad, he enrolled at Keio University. He joined a band circle and played guitar. He was into horse racing and enjoyed his student life in his own way, but he probably could not forget his longing for the University of Tokyo, where he failed two years in a row. He became a provisional ronin and passed the entrance exam at the University of Tokyo on his third try.

Suyama’s only sports experience was playing baseball in junior high school.

Suyama has almost no experience in sports.

He was a homeroom student in high school. He was a member of the baseball club in junior high school, and that was his only athletic career. He has always been interested in martial arts, and he started sumo wrestling after entering the University of Tokyo. However, in his third and fourth years of college, he could hardly practice due to the spread of the new coronavirus.

At first, he was thinking vaguely about his future, thinking, Maybe I will go to a trading company or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, the effects of the coronavirus must have prevented him from fully combusting in sumo, and he became determined not to end up halfway through.

Before the new apprentice examination, he knocked on the door of the Kise stable (Sumida-ku, Tokyo). His reason for joining the Kise stable was also unusual.

When he was a member of the Sumo Club at the University of Tokyo, he had visited the Kise stable several times to practice. The most decisive factor in his decision was that he had the same birthday (September 23) as his stablemaster (former maegashira Higo no Kai). He probably valued his relationship with his stablemaster,” said a sumo association official.

He has a timid personality

When asked by a reporter if he felt pressure as the first wrestler to graduate from the University of Tokyo, he replied, “No, I don’t feel any pressure. He still has eight credits and a graduation thesis to complete, so he plans to continue training at the Kise stable while attending the University of Tokyo for the time being.

Suyama’s specialty is yotsu-sumo, and his target is former yokozuna Hima Fuji. No rikishi from a national university has yet been promoted to the rank of sekitori. The unflappable University of Tokyo student has taken a giant step toward achieving an unprecedented feat.

  • Photo Kyodo News

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