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Fitness & Health

01st Sep 2021

Sumo wrestler says drinking beer every day is the secret to his success

Legendary sumo wrestler Musashimaru Kōyō says drinking beer every day is the secret to his success - alongside two kilos of beef with each meal

Alex Roberts

You’ll be surprised how much these athletes drink

Sumo wrestlers are big guys, but their diets are even wackier than you’d imagine. Just ask Musashimaru Kōyō.

A stalwart of the sumo game, Musashimaru won over 700 wrestling matches in a decorated, 14-year career in which he also racked up 12 top division tournament championship wins.

Alongside three compatriots, Musashimaru is the focus of a new documentary, The Giants, which charts his rise from humble beginnings in Hawaii to the summit of the sumo world.

A legendary figure in the sport, he is only the second sumo wrestler born outside Japan to be granted yokozuna status – the highest rank in the sport.

Sumo wrestler MusashimaruMusashimaru (centre) gets his sumo loincloth during the topknot cutting ceremony on October 2, 2004 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

Speaking exclusively to JOE, Musashimaru said: “My strategy for sumo is just to attack – a bit like [American] football.”

Sumo wrestlers are extremely dedicated athletes, but those relocating to Japan show even greater commitment.

“I never went home a lot,” said Musashimaru.

“I didn’t really talk to my parents. Everything I did was just about sumo, 24/7.”

Much of a day’s training is, of course, dominated by grappling sessions. But the amount of gym work a sumo engages in is often overlooked.

“We’d be in the gym about three, four hours a day, four times a week,” explained Musashimaru.

In a sport where sheer size takes precedence, bicep curls are off the agenda.

Weight training sessions are instead focussed on basic, compound lifts such as bench press, squat and deadlift.

Sumo wrestlers even have their own variation of the latter.

“We lift heavy weights, but we don’t want to get too big because you’re gonna look like a big muscle guy that way.”

Sumo wrestlers including Musashimaru conduct a ceremony prior to matches. (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

To compete at the top level of sumo wrestling, you have to wolf down an inordinate amount of food.

In terms of nutrition, Musashimaru’s focus was always on volume and quantity. During his heyday, he tipped the scales at 518 pounds – 235 kilograms or 37 stone.

In this sport, a small plate of chicken and broccoli simply isn’t enough.

“The heaviest I ever got was 240 kilos,” he said.

“I would eat about two kilos of beef in a meal. Sometimes probably chicken too.”

Rice is also a key component of any sumo wrestler’s diet, but Musashimaru placed more emphasis on a surprising ingredient: alcohol.

Musashimaru used to drink beer every day, even during his prime. (Credit: Rakuten)

When asked how much rice was present in his diet, he interjected: “Lots of beer is what you want to say.”

“I needed it at the end of the day to cool me down, every day. I would drink every day, as part of my strict lifestyle.”

Sinking a couple of swift pints after a gruelling day’s training should not be mistaken for a party lifestyle, however.

“I’d be home by 10:30, 11pm every day because I wanted to get that rest.”

The Giants is available to watch now on Rakuten TV in their FREE section