Konishiki shows there’s life after sumo | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Konishiki shows there’s life after sumo

There is life after sumo.

Konishiki, the sport’s first American-born star, rose through the ranks of Japan’s sumotori quickly, respecting the sport’s tradition, but smashing through its rigid structure and racism like he did his opponents.

Now after being a three-time sumo champion in Japan – and even more unheard of for a gai-jin – he’s the country’s top pitchman, selling products for Sanyo, United Airlines and Hawaii’s state tourism bureau. After enduring sumo’s boot camp-like training and years of competition, the outside world is nothing for the champ to conquer.

“I guess when we step away from the sport, we realize all the obstacles we had just give us an extra step into the real world,” Konishiki – born Salevaa Atisanoe in Oahu, Hawaii – said.

Now, he’s following on the heels of his recent CD, “Konishiki KMS,” on which he spreads the message of what he learned through R & B and rap, he’ll be at Caesars Tahoe for its Sumo Night of the Giants 2000 on Saturday. Konishiki will be lending his insider’s knowledge of the sport to the spectators at Caesars to help them understand it better. If the Caesars event goes off well, it could become the basis for a periodical series on the sport on ESPN.

“This is just a little step toward what we want to do internationally,” Konishiki said. “It’s just good to know that we can get people’s attention.”

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