Building A Better Rikishi?
Many sumo fans will recall that Mongolian rikishi Ichinojo sat out the Aki basho with injuries. As it turns out his back pain was caused by a herniated disk, and at one point his pain was so grave that he could not stand straight nor walk properly. He was hospitalized for 25 days beginning in August for treatment, during which he lost an impressive amount of weight, in part due to encouragement from the attending physician.
Advised the reducing his mass would reduce the stress on his joints and back, Ichinojo, who was probably the heaviest man in sumo, is down to 185kg (still over 400 pounds for us Americans). His approach was to cut back radically on carbohydrates – a recipe that is proven to give results.
He appears to be part of a growing trend in sumo: to lighten up. In truth many of the sumotori had gotten so large their skeleton and organs could not really support their flesh. In part, the men of sumo are encouraged to grow large to gain dominance on the dohyo, but it seems to limit many wrestlers as they struggle to adjust their sumo to their increasing bulk. A great example of that is Ura, who continues to grow larger, possibly to his detriment.