DUBAI: World-famous Sumo wrestler Hiroki is in Dubai for a month as part of his performance at Dubai-based Japanese restaurant TABŪ.
The restaurant is hosting a biweekly sumo performance, every Thursday and Friday.
Speaking to Arab News Japan, Hiroki said he was excited to perform in Dubai. “I regard Dubai as one of the best cities in the world. Especially with the multinational audience, at TABŪ,” he added.
Hiroki has performed in countries like the USA, Spain, Italy, Germany, Philippines and Saudi Arabia.
“I have performed quite a lot in the US and the audience there is very interactive,” Hiroki said. “They like to participate during sumo matches, they are very excited, they even want to fight with me.”
With that said, Hiroki added that the audience in Dubai was “slightly calmer.”
“Since this is the first time in Dubai, I felt the audience was still trying to figure out how they should react or how to perceive my performance,” he explained. “I hope the audience can familiarise themselves with sumo and get more excited while watching over time.”
He told Arab News Japan that Dubai was not the only place where the audience was less interactive, explaining it was the case in most countries, other than the US.
The sumo wrestler performed in Jeddah’s 2018 WWE Greatest Royal Rumble tournament.
Speaking of his time in Saudi Arabia, Hiroki said that the reaction in the Kingdom was “huge.”
“When I first got to Saudi, no one knew me. But after the tournament, people started following him. Hotel staff were asking for photos and taking extra good care of me,” he added.
As an active wrestler, Hiroki said his daily routine was very intense, with days filled with training and food.
“I wake up early enough to start my training at 5 AM until 12 PM,” he told Arab News Japan. “Sometimes, without breakfast, aside from a light banana or yoghurt.”
“After training, for lunch, we have a traditional Japanese Sumo meal that is like a hotpot. Once we are finished with lunch, it is an obligation to have a one or two hour nap,” he added.
As they wake up for their nap, sumo wrestlers continue their training at a gym, for some weight lifting or swimming. According to Hiroki, the extra training is to build more of an appetite for dinner.
“I am lucky enough to have this heavy and big physique,” he explained. “My colleagues struggle to gain weight, even though they eat as much as they could.”
Hiroki said that with the intense training, the exercise can make wrestlers lose 5 kilograms instantly. “We have to eat until we can no longer swallow.”
Other than his world-famous performances, Hiroki has been a part of the latest John Wick: Chapter 4 movie. He is also part of Netflix’s 2022 release, Sanctuary, a series about a tough, desperate kid becoming a sumo wrestler and captivating fans.
In the Netflix series, the sumo exercise known as Shiko is given huge importance. It involves two wrestlers facing each other, squatting low and pushing off the ground at the same.
Hiroki explained that at a glance, it looks easy.
“However, it is not at all. In order to perform Shiko correctly, it would take a lot of time and attention,” he explained. “If I want to do a correct Shiko, it takes 1 hour to do 100 proper ones.”
This is because the importance of the exercise relies on the lower part of the body. If a sumo wrestler is to play with their upper body only, they would injure themselves.
Hiroki is helping celebrate TABŪ’s first year anniversary, and will perform twice a week until June 17.