Former Japanese Sumo Wrestler Hidetora Hanada trying his hand at American Football

Trading his traditional mawashi loincloth for shoulder pads and a helmet, 21-year-old Hidetora Hanada is starting to find his place on the football field. Having picked up American Football just eight months ago, the former sumo wrestler is training to be a defensive lineman for the NCAA Division-I program Colorado State Rams.

Hanada had reached the peak of amateur sumo wrestling when he won gold in the heavyweight division at the 2022 World Games. The 6’1, 280-pound Yokozuna shocked many as he left Japan to challenge himself and his ability in a new sport he had never played before.

Before he would leave for the United States, Hanada got his start training with Japanese semi-pro football team, the IBM Big Blue. It did not take long for those to notice his potential. In attendance at his workouts was defensive line coach for the CFL’s Ottawa REDBLACKS, Mike Phair.

Colorado State defensive lineman Hidetora Hanada warms up during the team’s NCAA college football practice on the university’s campus Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023, in Fort Collins, Colorado. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Phair would help Hanada land an opportunity to work out at the CFL Combine in Edmonton in hopes of getting other professional eyes on him. With his powerful leverage and strength, the Yokozuna would continue to impress and Phair knew he would be able to make his way onto a college campus. It was just the matter of finding the right one.

It did not take long to find the right suitor for Hanada as Phair had the perfect coach in mind. In stepped Buddah Williams, former teammate of Phair and longtime friend, dating all the way back to their time at the University of Illinois.

Knowing that Williams would love to work with Hanada, it was an easy choice. With the college football season looming, the Yokozuna has not only impressed his coaches but also his teammates with his development.

It seems as if the journey is just getting started for 21-year-old, but he has quickly settled into his new home and his new role with his new team. Whether it is in the ring or on the field, you know he is coming to compete. Look for Hidetora Hanada as a name to keep on your radar as he progresses through his first season of American Football in the 2023 NCAA season.

Noah Costantino is a student and football player at Baldwin Wallace University in Cleveland, Ohio. Fueled by his love for the game he looks to continue his knowledge of football at an international level. He is majoring in Communications with a