Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Former Estonian bouncer adds Baltic spice to sumo

- Baruto throws his weight around

Baruto throws his weight around

After the nightclub fracas that toppled a Mongolian grand champion from grace who would have thought it would take a former bouncer from Estonia to help clean up the mess in the troubled world of sumo?

The soft-spoken giant Baruto gave the ancient Japanese sport a shot in the arm after sealing his promotion to the sport’s second highest rank of “ozeki” with a 14-1 showing at the spring grand sumo tournament less than two months after “yokozuna” Asashoryu quit in disgrace amid a “booze rage” probe.

The 1.98-metre tall, 190-kilogram Baruto narrowly missed out on his first Emperor’s Cup as yokozuna Hakuho went unbeaten to claim his 13th major title in Osaka. “I was happy about the 14 wins but the one defeat hurt more,” said Baruto, who will formally become the second European after Kotooshu in 2005 to ascent to the ozeki rank. When the baby Kaido Hoovelson was born in the northern Estonian town of Rakvere, near the Gulf of Finland in 1984, his country was still part of the Soviet Union. He later worked as a nightclub bouncer and he still demonstrates textbook “security guard” firmness in shoving out rivals with the no-nonsense sumo “yorikiri” (force out) technique.Asashoryu’s sudden exit left a bad taste and the 25-times Emperor’s Cup winner said he was hounded out of the sport by ultra-conservative forces within sumo’s closeted world who feared a non-Japanese wrestler breaking former yokozuna Taiho’s record of 32 set between 1960 and 1971.