Young students hope to lead sumo revival in Hawaii

Japan’s sumo grand champion, Yokozuna Hakuho, wants to see a revival of sumo in Hawaii and he’s putting his money where his mouth is.

Hakuho is sponsoring six Hawaii sumo students ages 9 to 14, plus two coaches, to attend his seventh annual Hakuho Hai or Hakuho Cup sumo tournament in Japan in two weeks.

The boys got the good news Sunday from Hawaii’s champion sumotori, Ozeki Konishiki.

“I like it (sumo) a lot ’cause it helps with all the other sports, like football,” said 12-year-old Kanani Judd-Au.

His mother Kalei Judd said “he’s tried football (and) sumo is just something he tried and kind of fell in love with, so we’re hoping he sticks it out and completely puts his all into it.”

“Sumo has very old traditions here (in Hawaii),” Konishiki said, “but kind of fade away, but I’m happy somebody bringing it back, you know.”

Punahou graduate and U.S. sumo champion Kena Heffernan is the students’ coach. The boys will be representing the U.S. at the Japan tournament, participating along with 1,200 youth from around the world.

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