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Yokozuna is the highest rank for sumo wrestlers. The name came from the twisted rope he is privileged to wear on his belt over an elaborately embroidered apron (keshou-mawashi). The rope is another form of a sacred Shinto rope (shimenawa).
Wrestlers are ranked according to their ability. The lowest rank is called jonokuchi. There are nine other ranks such as jonidan, sandanme, makushita, juuryou, maegashira, komusubi, sekiwake and oozeki. Wrestlers above the rank of juuryou are called sekitori, and receive monthly salaries.
To become a yokozuna, one has to win two consecutive tournaments, or achieve similar results while one is at the rank of oozeki. Sumo has more than 200 years of history, however, only over 60 wrestlers have reached the level of yokozuna. In 1993, an American wrestler, Akebono was promoted as the 64th yokozuna, and became the first foreigner to reach the top rank.
Click here for information about Sumo Tournaments in Japan.
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