Meet Takanoyama Shuntaro, World’s Skinniest Champion Sumo Wrestler (Video)
Meet Takanoyama Shuntaro, the skinniest man in the top division of professional sumo wrestling.
This 29-year-old wasn’t born Takanoyama Shuntaro, as you may have guessed. His parents back in the Czech Republic called him Pavel. Pavel Bojar, to be exact. But when he moved to Japan to pursue a career as a professional sumo wrestler, he took a more sumo-esque name. And he made history in 2011 by becoming one of the smallest wrestlers to make it into the top tier of the Japanese sumo system.
You see, Japanese sumo is kind of like European soccer: the competition is divided into tiers, and the best and worst performers from adjacent tiers swap places. So just like soccer, it’s theoretically possible for the smallest nobody competitor to make it to the top tiers. It’s just not likely.
But Takanoyama defied the odds. The 6’1″ 220 pound man wasn’t going to let his (relatively) “slight” stature keep him from competing in the sport he loves. So he worked. And he worked. And he ate. And he worked.
Finally, in 2011, he made it to the 2nd tier of the pro sumo system, called the juryo division. Then he made history by becoming only the 3rd man since 1958 to earn promotion to the top tier, the makuuchi division, after just 15 bouts.
Of course, the pipsqueak didn’t last that long in the makuuchi division. But after relegation he again stormed through the juryo division and made it back to the top in 2012, and he has stayed there ever since.
Sound awesome? He is. Just check out his highlight reel:
Not bad, right?