Everyone knows that sumo wrestlers have large amounts of fat but at the same time they are impressive athletes who spend hours everyday training. Does working out neutralize being fat or is sumo wrestling still unhealthy? Let’s find out!
Are Sumo Wrestlers Healthy?
Sumo wrestlers are not healthy and suffer from back and knee issues due to their enormous weight. They also suffer many stomach problems due to force feeding. Due to their unhealthy lifestyle the average sumo wrestler dies in their 60s and lives 10 years less than the average Japanese man.
Sumo wrestling is not a healthy sport as athletes force feed themselves to put on huge amounts of weight and swell to well over 300 pounds. The average top ranked sumo wrestler weighs over 350 pounds at just 6f1 which is morbidly obese by any metric.
While sumo wrestlers do mitigate the negative effects of obesity such as heart attacks and strokes through their vigorous training routines they still suffer many other health problems including stomach issues.
The stomach and intestines is not meant to consume kilos of food everyday and process 6000 + calories! The standard sumo diet places enormous stress on the digestion system. It is common for sumo wrestlers to die in their 50s and 60s from stomach and pancreatic cancers. The sumo diet is very extreme as they eat up to bowls of rice everyday and kilos of meat, fish, chicken which is all combined into a hot pot stew.
Sumo wrestlers also have another very unhealthy habit…beer drinking! Sumo wrestlers love drinking beer and they can consume incredible amounts. It is not uncommon for Rikishi to consume over 5 pints of beer daily! No doctor would recommend anybody no matter how many hours they spend in the gym to drink so much beer.
Sumo wrestlers drink beer because it is an easy way to consume empty calories that will quickly turn to fat. With a pint of beer having 200 calories a Rikishi can slam a couple of pints, add a few hundred calories to his daily total and then let his body work on his beer gut as he takes a nap.
The sport of sumo itself is unhealthy. Sumo wrestlers compete on a hard and often slippery clay surface and smash into each other at a violent speed. They also strike each other with their open hands and hit each other with their shoulders.
The sport of sumo also places severe stress on Rikishis’ backs and knees which is further increased by the sheer weight of the wrestlers. It is very common to see sumo wrestlers with heavy knee braces and strapping as they battle with long term and severe injuries.
Many top sumo wrestlers are forced to retire after accumulating too many injuries particularly damaged discs in their back and torn ligaments in their knee.
Sumo wrestlers are often unable to take off to heal from injuries because even if they miss a couple of tournaments they are quickly demoted to the unpaid divisions. To prevent themselves from losing their healthy salary, sumo wrestlers will continue to compete even if their body is severely compromised. This culture of competing with injuries results in many wrestlers worsening their condition and turning manageable injuries into serious chronic problems.
It isn’t just competing that is unhealthy for sumo wrestlers but the training can also be very unhealthy. Sumo wrestlers will often train for 3 hours everyday and have Sunday off if they are lucky. The training involves thousands of repetitions of different strengthening exercises and rounds and rounds of brutal sparring and pushing training.
It doesn’t matter if sumo wrestlers are feeling sick or tired or they have minor injuries they are expected to push through the discomfort and train hard. Sumo wrestlers who are not willing to work hard during training are removed from their stable and barred from competing in the sport.
I don’t know about you but smashing into a 350 pound sumo wrestler over and over again everyday for years on end would leave me pretty sore. There is a reason that most sumo wrestlers are retired by the time they are 30 and even the legends of the sport don’t usually make it to 35.
If you are looking for evidence as to why sumo wrestlers are unhealthy then you just need to look at their average life expectancy. The average sumo wrestler lives to around 65 years old while the average Japanese man lives to be 81 year old.
Now as there are only a few thousand current and former sumo wrestlers in the whole of Japan it is possible that their low life expectancy is just the result of randomness (small sample sizes are more susceptible to varied outcomes). However, it is more likely that their unusual lifestyle that involves numerous unhealthy habits including excessive eating, drinking and taking part in a grueling physical routine results in sumo wrestlers living significantly shorter lives than the average Japanese man.
I think that the excessive weight that sumo wrestlers build plays a major role in their low life expectancy. I suspect if sumo wrestling had a BMI limit to prevent athletes from becoming morbidly obese the life expectancy of sumo wrestlers would rise substantially. At the end of the day the human body is not meant to weigh over 300 pounds and it is not meant to consume 6000 calories or more every single day!