Takerufuji Defies Odds to Clinch Historic Sumo Victory

The 24-year-old Takerufuji made sumo history at the most recent Haru Basho. The Japanese-born athlete is the first wrestler since 1914 to capture the Emperor’s Cup in his debut in the makuuchi division, which is the highest level of sumo.

Takerufuji Makes History in Sumo

Six major tournaments in sumo happen throughout the year, each named a basho. Each basho takes place over 15 days in a point-tournament format until a winner is crowned. Each sumo wrestler will compete in approximately 15 matches, one per day. Makuuchi is the highest level, then followed by juryo, makushita, sandanme, jonidan, and jonokuchi being the lowest division.

In 2023, Takerufuji was competing in the makushita division. In Jan. 2024, he made his debut in juryo, taking the title, and then he was promoted to makuuchi for the March basho and was the lowest-ranked sumo in the tournament.


Standing at an impressive six-feet tall and weighing 315 pounds, the Japanese-born wrestler went 13-2 in the Haru Basho, but he nearly pulled out of the tournament. On the 14th day, he suffered an ankle injury in a loss and was spotted in a wheelchair. His coaches advised him to pull out for his safety, but he refused. Takerufuji explained:

“I injured a ligament in my right ankle on Day 14. My stablemaster told me to pull out, but I knew I would regret it for the rest of my life if I did. If you ever ask me to do it again, there’s no way I would be able to.”

On Sunday, at the EDION Arena Osaka, the 24-year-old wrestler was able to shove out the higher-ranked Gonoyama to capture the basho victory. In addition to the Emperor’s Cup, he was also awarded the Kanto-sho, for fighting spirit, and the Shukun-sho for outstanding performance.

The young sumo limped to receive the championship cup and explained:

“My body moved instinctively, I wasn’t even conscious of itI did it through sheer willpower alone. I didn’t really know what was going on.”