Sumo fans aren't used to seeing displays of emotion. But Tokushoryu's tears upon winning Japan's first main sumo tournament of the year on Sunday are just part of the reason fans have embraced the up-and-coming wrestler. With the rank of No. 17 maegashira, the 414-pound Tokushoryu was the clear underdog, the lowest-ranked of all competitors at the 15-day contest in Tokyo, before emerging on top with a 14-1 record. He burst into tears upon defeating his final competitor. In doing so, he cemented his first title of an 11-year career, became the first bottom-ranked wrestler to win a top-division title in 20 years, and the first wrestler from the city of Nara to raise the Emperor's Cup in 100 years, per the Guardian.
The applause at Ryogoku Kokugikan stadium was echoed on social media. "He was so emotional … He was really blubbing. I'm going to keep cheering him on," wrote one user, per the Guardian. "I might have cried too much, but at that moment I felt relieved from all the pressure," the 33-year-old said at a Monday press conference where he again "got choked up," per Kyodo News. "It feels like a dream. I don't feel like myself. I feel I'm walking on clouds," said the wrestler, who also took home the Outstanding Performance Prize and the Fighting Spirit Prize. He said he was motivated by the death of his university coach in the midst of the tournament. "I thought I should do it for him," he said. Going forward, his motivation will be the crowd, he noted. "I want to hear that cheering again." (Read more sumo wrestling stories.)