Tokyo - A scrawny Japanese sumo wrestler who was launched from the ring in less than a second during a bruising debut tweeted photos of his battle scars on Wednesday and promised to do better.
Seventeen-year-old Masato Tai, whose sumo name is “Sodachizakari”, tips the scales at just 65kg and his plans to bulk up could be complicated by a problem which does not normally afflict his mountainous rivals - a small appetite.
“It's hard to eat so much,” the snake-hipped grappler told Japanese media on Wednesday. “But I know I've got to eat more now I've become a wrestler.”
Sodachizakari (meaning “the period before you reach adulthood”) failed to reach the minimum weight of 67kg earlier this month when he registered for a sumo tournament in the central city of Nagoya.
Rather than give up, the Osaka native stuffed himself with four rice balls, two big bowls of buckwheat noodles and gulped down three litres of soy milk and water, returning to be weighed again and this time scraping in.
His efforts looked to have been in vain, however, after he was catapulted on Tuesday from the raised ring as if shot from a cannon against an opponent 50kg heavier.
“I definitely won't lose again like I did today,” a defiant Sodachizakari posted on Twitter.
Unfortunately that is exactly what he did in his second bout on Wednesday, albeit in slightly less brutal fashion.
He is not the first wrestler to resort to extreme measures to compete in the sport, whose origins are said to date back 2 000 years.
The popular Mainoumi once persuaded doctors to inject silicone into his scalp to meet the height requirements.
But such levels of sacrifice have become increasingly scarce after years of scandals and plummeting public interest, resulting in a drought of new recruits as baseball and football dominate modern Japanese sport.
Fans in Nagoya tried to rouse Sodachizakari as he was propelled from the ring on Wednesday for a second day running.
“It's a miracle I'm even out there,” he tweeted.
“I almost gave up after the weigh-in but I made it. The fact I didn't pick up a nasty injury (yesterday) is a victory in itself. I'd like to have lasted a bit longer, though.”