Japan’s Grand Champion sumo wrestler Hakuho is sponsoring six Hawaii Sumo students and two coaches to the seventh annual Hakuho Hai (Hakuho Cup) in Japan on January 29th. The wrestlers (ages 10-14) will represent the United States in the tournament featuring more than 1,200 youth from around the world. Other countries being represented include China, Korea, Mongolia, Australia, Europe, and Japan.
Punahou and Yale graduate Kena Heffernan serves as coach for the keiki. Heffernan, a U.S. National Sumo Champion with more than 40 titles to his name has been training the students for the past two years at BJ Penn’s UFC Gym in Kaka’ako.
“I myself still have friends from doing 30, 30-plus years of sumo that I consider family to me on the west coast, on the east coast, I mean even all over the world, Egypt and places so definitely sumo’s done a lot for me, and I would like it to do a lot for the kids too”, said Heffernan.