Sport of Sumo Returns to Hawaii

Jesse Kuhaulua
Jesse Kuhaulua

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The sport of sumo returns to Hawaii this weekend, with the Grand Sumo Tournament in Hawaii being held at the Blaisdell.

Sumo fans will have no trouble remembering Hawaii's big-3 that dominated the sport back in the 90's.

Konishiki, Akebono and Musashimaru, all became icons of the ancient japanese sport.

But to remember the wrestler who paved the way for them, you have to think back some 43 years.

Jesse Kuhaulua was born on the island Maui.

In Sumo circles, he was known as Takamiyama.

And he's now Stablemaster Azumazeki.

But by any name, he will always be, the first American to break into the sport of Sumo.

"Last week, I went to Maui." says Azumazeki, "and all my classmates all retired and only me, I have another 2 years to go. But I hope to hang on."

Through the years, Azumazeki has done far more than just hang on.

In 1964, he entered as a Sumotori.

Today, he trains young up and comers, getting them ready for the rituals and traditions of this ancient sport.

"The difficult part is trying to raise these kids. And it is hard. You know, sometimes you gotta bump them on the head. It's not an easy life. I did work hard. And being the first non-Japanese to accomplish this, I'm very proud of myself."

Azumazeki is in Hawaii, to help organize this weekend's Sumo event at the Blaisdell.

It's one of the cappers on his nearly half century's long body of work.

"I'm excited because this will be my last big job. Working with the local Sumo people and the Sumo gyokai."

A few years ago, Hawaii wrestlers made big strides in Sumo.

Some say, those strides were too big.

The result, was a de-emphasis on wrestlers from Hawaii, leading to the lone regret, for the man formerly known as Takamiyama.

"I'm sorry that we don't have any local boys. Fourteen years ago, we had Konishiki, Akebono and Musashimaru. But, now there's only Mongolians and Russians and I'm sorry that we have no local boys on the team."

Azumazeki signed autographs for fans today at Shirokiya Ala Moana.

The Grand Sumo Tournament in Hawaii set to go this Saturday and Sunday.

For ticket information, you can check the front page of this website.