Former sumo wrestler returns to Hawaii to promote fight event

Akebono Taro
Akebono Taro

By Jason Tang - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - He retired in 2001, but local boy, and sumo legend Akebono is coming out of retirement.

No, he's not stepping back into the circle.  But he's still staying close to combat sports.

He was the first foreign born wrestler ever to reach Yokozuna, the highest ranking in sumo wrestling.

And while his name, Akebono, means "dawn" in Japanese, it's also the dawn of a new era for the legendary wrestler.

"Right now I'm here to promote, K-1 World Grand Prix in Hawaii" said Akebono Taro. "This is the third year, that they'll be having it here in Hawaii so they asked me if I could help them with the promotions, and I said yeah."

Akebono arrived from Japan Tuesday morning, and though it's his first time being a promoter, he's excited for the opportunity.

"Actually I had a lot of interest in doing promotions after I retired from Sumo, I was in the PR Department of the Sumo Association and that was always something I was interested in doing, so now I have a chance to do PR plus bring events to Hawaii, so hopefully this will help out."

Because helping out and giving back is what he's always wanted to do. Especially for the fighters here in Hawaii.

"Now I have my chance to do something, give the local boys a chance to fight, but not just fight to fight, fight to make some money and make a name for themselves. You know like I had a chance to go to sumo, I feel like it's my responsibility to pass that chance on."

As for a real comeback into the ring, Akebono says he'll pass.

"I'm getting old already, time to go, do something else."

The K-1 event Akebono is promoting is on August the 9th at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The winners from the tournament advance to fight in the Tokyo Dome.