The first professional sumo wrestler from the African continent won his debut bout today in Osaka, Japan, becoming the latest foreign challenger in this ancient Japanese sport.
Abdelrahman Ahmed Shaalan, a 20-year-old from Giza, Egypt, beat his Japanese opponent with a powerful arm throw during a bout for unranked sumo wrestlers at the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka, the Kyodo news agency reported.
Shaalan, who goes by the wrestling name Osunaarashi, or "Great Sandstorm," first tried sumo at age 15 and moved to Japan last year, joining the Otake stable.
'My dream is to become a yokozuna (grand champion)," he told reporters, Kyodo said.
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Japan's ancient sport has drawn a growing number of international wrestlers in recent years, including top sumo champions from Mongolia, Bulgaria and Hawaii, the Asahi Shimbun reported.
The Otake stablemaster decided to take in Osunaarashi after being impressed that the Egyptian was willing to come to Japan not long after the disastrous earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear crisis, the Asahi Shimbun said.
Osunaarashi is described as having a powerful frame, at 6-foot-2 and 319 pounds, but is lacking the flexibility required to do the ceremonial leg raising and stomping on the ring.
He is a Muslim and will have to juggle fasting and training during Ramadan, the newspaper noted.
“I am confident that I can overcome my challenges," he told the Asahi Shimbun reporter. "I want to become a wrestler who represents Arab and African nations.”
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