Sumos Embrace Atkins, and Controversy
From The Japan Times:
In a new and controversial fad sweeping the world of sumo wrestling, the Atkins Diet — all the rage in the United States five years ago — has now been taken up numerous sumo wrestlers in Japan, who are increasingly becoming weight-conscious. Yokozuna (the highest rank) super star “Shiorehana” was the first of the Grand Champions to dive into an Atkins regimen in early 2009, when he stopped eating all carbohydrates, especially rice, and in three months dropped a shocking 110 kilograms (242 pounds) from 190 to 75 kilograms (or 414 to 165 pounds).
“I feel great!” said Shiorehana, through a translator. “My clothes fit better, I can take up ballet again and the autograph hounds have stopped pestering me,”said Shiorehana, who, as many sumo fans know, was an accomplished ballet and tap-dancer as a high school student.
Although his win-loss record has plummeted over the past year as his legendary technique is often no match for competitors sometimes weighing three or more times than him, Shiorehana says it’s becoming easier to compete since other sumo stars have also taken up the Atkins diet and are quickly shedding kilos, and thus, for Shiorehana, making the field, or sumo ring, a little more level.
There are detractors, though. Retired sumo legend and now coach to no less than two Yokozuna and three Ozeki wrestlers, Dainomi contends that it’s a “travesty.” Dainomi recently lashed-out at the slimmed and slimming sumos and decried the new weight-loss craze. “What, are they trying to look like Norwegians, or French?!” said Dainomi at a recent rice festival in Osaka. . . .