It hasn’t been an easy path for Gorgadze, one of a growing number of foreign sumo stars, who has faced homesickness, injury and even being beaten with a golf club on his way to the top of the sport.
His story typifies the difficulties encountered by overseas sumos, who started making their mark in the 1980s and have to negotiate the sport’s arch-conservatism and spartan lifestyle if they are to succeed.
Sumo has also been dogged by multiple scandals in recent years including allegations of bullying, illegal betting and links to organized crime.
“My mother was against it but I took the decision on my own,” Gorgadze, 32, told AFP in a rare interview for a sumo, speaking at his stable after training.
He quickly found that the life of a trainee sumo wrestler was not for the fainthearted.