Several Brazilians stand out in the practice of sumo, both in Brazil and in Japan
Tokyo – Vítor Ogawa / IPCJAPAN
Luis Go Ikemori, the first Brazilian to become “sekitori”
Dalmagro, Santiago, Gomes, Cerpa, Costa, Gonzaga, Barbirato and Muniz. These are just some of the surnames of sumo athletes in Brazil. Introduced into the country by Japanese immigrants, the sport gradually began to gain popularity among non-descendants. One of the objectives of the Brazilian Sumo Confederation is for the sport to follow in the footsteps of other Japanese martial arts, such as judo or karate, which today have a large number of athletes, most of them non-Japanese.
According to Massatoshi Akagi, president of the Brazilian Sumo Confederation (CBS), the sport has gone through a very difficult phase with the decrease of athletes. He said that one of the reasons for this evasion may have been the movement of Japanese descendants who left Brazil to work in Japan. However, he points out that the sport has risen again gradually, although he is aware that it is difficult to Brazil reaches the level of development that exists in Japan. This resumption of sumo in Brazil even generated an article in the North American newspaper The New York Times, which pointed out that 70% of the sport’s practitioners in the country do not have Japanese origin. Among them is the athlete Fernanda Pereira da Costa, who was world champion in sumo in Germany.
For the sport to become even more popular, CBS has been investing in workshops and sumo clinics to further develop the technique in the country, which has come to reveal talents such as Luis Go Ikemori, who fought professionally in Japan under the nickname Ryudô , and became the first Brazilian sekitori in Japan. The athlete, who retired in 1999, was Japan’s national high school sumo champion before joining Tamanoi-beya and is the brother of another sport revelation in Brazil, Cláudio Ikemori, former world sumo champion. His steps are being followed by several athletes, among them Ricardo Sugano, who was crowned Brazilian champion in the city of Salto (São Paulo) last year, and who is now fighting in the Japanese championships.
The number of Brazilian athletes in Japan could even have increased more if Brazilian athlete Ted Barbirato had managed to get here. The fighter was one of the highlights in championships held in the United States. On his return to Brazil he became champion of his category. With that he got a spot to compete in the World Cup in Osaka last year and train in Japan, a big dream of his. For particular reasons, this trip had to be interrupted in the middle of the way and he lost the place he would have to train in Japan.