NFL star Micah Parsons takes on sumo wrestler Wakamotoharu (@BleacherReport/X)

Video: NFL Star Micah Parsons Gets Humbled by Sumo Wrestler

NFL linebacker Micah Parsons, who plays for the Dallas Cowboys, was in Japan recently. While there he stopped by the Arashio heya (stable or gym) in Tokyo. While there, he couldn’t resist testing his strength against the rikishi (literally ‘strong men’) who train there.

Of course, someone caught what happened on video. The clips of what went down have since gone viral and for good reason.

Micah Parsons Took on a 17-Year-Old Sumo Wrestler

The first video that began circling the internet showed Micah Parsons going head-to-head with a sumo wrestler wearing a dark green mawashi (loin cloth). Parsons and the wrestler, who is named Tanji Jun, collided in the ring and Parsons attempted to move Tanji backwards. Parsons, a 24-year-old former Rookie of the Year, struggled to move him and Tanji eventually slipped the NFL’er and sent him to the ground. 


Some laughing ensued, with the wrestler being goaded into calling Fletcher a ‘baby’. Fletcher then asked for a do-over. This time he was able to force Tanji back and out of the ring.

To add some context here…

Tanji is 17-years-old and has been training since 2022. He is currently in the makushita (third division). Only the top two divisions of sumo are salaried.

In the first ‘bout’ between the pair, Tanji is offering his chest to Parsons. This is part of something called butsukari. The butsukari drill is one of the most gruelling exercises sumo wrestlers participate in. The point of the exercise is for one wrestler to push the other all the way across the ring and then over the straw boundary. This drill often sees senior wrestlers forcing junior wrestlers to perform the drill over and over again until they are satisfied with the effort that has been put in.

Sometimes this practice is abused and resembles hazing more than training. 

Parsons vs. Wakamotoharu Was a Different Story

Parsons was able to move the young Tanji. However, Tanji wasn’t the only rikishi Parsons played with at Arashio. He also went chest to chest with Wakamotoharu. 

See how that went below:

Wakamotoharu was able to stop the linebacker in his tracks. And laugh while doing so. The display shocked many westerners, who assumed NFL players were likely the most powerful pushers on the planet.

Unlike Tanji, Wakamotoharu is an elite sumo wrestler who competes in the makuuchi (top division). He’s ranked sekiwake, which is two promotions below the fabled rank of yokozuna (something only 73 men have secured since the 1600s). Based on the most recent banzuke (ranking document), Wakamotoharu is the sixth highest ranked wrestler in Grand Sumo.

Below is Wakamotoharu taking on ozeki (one rank below yokozuna) Takakeisho last year.