TOKYO, (AFP) — Africa’s first professional sumo wrestler made a victorious debut on Tuesday in Osaka, beating a fellow novice, as Japan’s ritualistic sport draws more and more foreign competitors.
Egyptian national Abdelrahman Ahmed Shaalan, 20, who goes by the ring name of “Osunaarashi”, meaning a great sand storm, defeated his Japanese opponent with an arm throw.
“It was very exciting,” he told reporters in Japanese after the contest.
Shaalan, who stands 189 centimeters (6-foot-2-inch) and weighs 145 kilogrammes (319 pounds), began sumo five years ago and won a bronze medal at the 2008 world junior sumo championships.
He passed the physical check in January to officially become a wrestler.
Foreign competitors are vital members of tradition-bound sumo, with many Mongolians dominating the top ranks for years.