Monday, March 22, 2010

Sumo wrestler Konishiki now makes coconut liqueur

Konishiki was the biggest man in sumo in the 1990s -- literally. The native Hawaiian weighed in at 630 pounds and used his bulk to reach the second-highest rank in the sport, ozeki. But he retired in 1997 a little disappointed that he never made it to the top ranking.

Unlike most Japanese sumo wrestlers, he has had a great post-retirement media career. He hosted a TV show for kids, did a popular series of beer ads, and still hosts a radio show of Hawaiian music. He also plays the ukelele.

Now he's branched out into booze, with a coconut milk liqueur I spotted at Foodex Tokyo, a food trade show. Just 7% alcohol, it's made from a shochu base with coconut milk juice and coconut fruit. I like it; it's quite coconutty, yet refreshing on the rocks. I imagine that US bartenders would love to get ahold of this for pina coladas.

The liqueur has only been on the market for about four months. I tried to ask Konishiki about it and had the depressing experience of watching a guy I really rooted for when I first moved to Japan in 1991 -- during the peak of his career -- give me a "get-away-from-me" stare and waddle away.

On the plus side, he has lost a lot of weight since having gastric bypass surgery in 2008. I'd say he now weighs around 250 pounds. He still doesn't exactly look healthy -- his weight is not evenly distributed, and he limps. But at least his life expectancy must be longer.

So hey, big guy, I'm still rooting for you. Good luck in shoving other coconut-milk products right out of the ring.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Hawaii sumo boys really were great for the sport