Araonami, a young wrestler with bullish strength and an impressive pedigree, made a solid start to his sumo career in bouts between unranked wresters at the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament.
The 18-year-old high school student overwhelmed opponents in the Fukuoka Kokusai Center on Nov. 15 with his quick initial charge, winding back the years to his late grandfather, former komusubi Wakabayama, who won many bouts by driving his opponents down while holding their belts with both hands.
Araonami’s father was a makushita wrestler and he is one of three brothers now on the threshold of promising sumo careers.
Every day, he does more than 30 training bouts with the makushita wrestlers at his Arashio Stable based in Shime, Fukuoka Prefecture. “I’ve gotten used to my new life at the sumo stable,” he says.
Araonami, whose real name is Minato Onami, was born in Fukushima, the capital of Fukushima Prefecture, and says he has been interested in sumo for as long as he can remember. He started competing in second grade and took part in the Inter-High School Championships, the National Athletic Meet and other major competitions while attending Shoin Gakuen Fukushima High School.
He says his role model is his late grandfather, who was known for throwing giant opponents in the 1950s and 1960s despite his slim under-100kg frame.
“I’ve seen him on video, and his moves were amazingly swift,” says Araonami, who stands 183 centimeters tall and weighs 125 kilograms.
Araonami’s older brother Wataru, 19, joined the Arashio Stable two years ago and is now a sandanme-division wrestler, three ranks below the elite makuuchi division, wrestling under the sumo name Onami.
“My younger brother has gotten much bigger. I want to aim to become a sekitori together with him. I don’t want to lose to my brother,” the elder brother says.
Araonami’s younger brother belongs to the sumo club at Shoin Gakuen Fukushima High School, so all three brothers may fight in the professional ring soon.
“I want to do my best and get close to my (late) grandfather’s position as soon as I can,” says Araonami.
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