PRE-PRIDE GRAND PRIX 2004 INTERVIEW
04/28/2004
Henry Miller

Pride Fighting Championships: What are your age, height and weight?
Sentoryu : 34 years old. 5'10" and 136kg.
Pride : You haven't been home in a while?
Sentoryu : No. Sumo's very strict. Plus, it's a year-round sport. We get a week off after each tournament but a week is not enough. I usually have to wait for the boss to say I can go home for 10 days or something like that.
Pride : How did you get started in sumo?
Sentoryu : Actually, I wanted to become a professional football player but I tore my ligament in my senior year of high school and that messed up all my scholarship chances. I didn't want to put any pressure on my parents with the college tuition so I just gave it all up. A friend of the family, who I haven't seen since I was 6.actually, I was born (in Japan) on Yokota Air Base. A friend of the family, I finally got to see him after 12 years when I was 18 and he couldn't believe how big I had become. He mentioned something about sumo. I didn't know anything about sumo except big guys wearing diapers. He told me that if I go into sumo and do well, I would have a chance to become famous and make a lot of money. I always wanted to be a professional something so that opened the door for me to become a sumo. I'm not the real big sumo type of guy but I sent a picture to my boss, the stable master, and he liked my upper-body but my legs were kind of thin. Regular American style legs. They gave me a chance and I did pretty well and they were surprised.
Pride : Is it really hard? I hear these stories about the hierarchy in the stable when you start out.
Sentoryu : Yeah, it's like going in the Service. In the Service, you have to start out by cleaning the toilets. Same thing. I had to start out cleaning the toilets and we have to take turns cooking. I had to wash my own clothes and the top guys' clothes. Had to run a lot of errands.
Pride : Could you already speak Japanese by then?
Sentoryu : No. My mother's Japanese but my dad didn't want her to teach me and my sister any Japanese because he didn't think we'd need it in St. Louis. He did it for my mother so she could speak English. I learned my Japanese when I came back to Japan.
Pride : How long did you do sumo?
Sentoryu : 15 years.
Pride : Did you stop or are you still doing it?
Sentoryu : I stopped. I retired last year in November. November was my last tournament.
Pride : What was your greatest achievement in sumo?
Sentoryu : Maku-uchi is the top level. Maku-uchi, number 12.
Pride : How does the money work in sumo?
Sentoryu : Now in Japan, it's not so good. It's hard to find personal sponsors or anything like that.
Pride : What brought you to MMA?
Sentoryu : After retiring from sumo, I still had fighting spirit. I wanted to do something, to go to the gym for a reason. I saw Akebono went into K-1 but at that time, I wasn't really thinking of going myself. I like to watch it, though. I got a phone call from Sakakibara, asking me if I want to try sumo. He wanted someone from sumo to fight in PRIDE and other sumo guys apparently recommended me. Akebono he retired for 3 years and then went into the ring. I started training 2 months after retiring.
Pride : I read that you are the most successful American mainland sumo player.
Sentoryu : Right.
Pride : Is there anything you think you will find useful from your sumo background?
Sentoryu : Not only sumo. I did football and wrestling in high school. I wrestled since I was in 6 th grade. I hope my wrestling experience will catch up with me in PRIDE. My type of sumo is just charging in and slapping the guy down. My opponent is a big guy but I've been against big guys. That's why a lot of sumo fans love my type of sumo. I don't run away. I run straight out. I was a defensive linebacker in football. I don't run around and try to get away.
Pride : Are you going to try to take him down?
Sentoryu : I think that's the only way. This is my first fight. I saw Heath Herring but he can do a lot of kicks and move faster than I can. I've got to grab his legs and throw him down. Maybe I can throw a couple of kicks. I've never really done it before.
Pride : What do you do when you are not fighting?
Sentoryu : When my training is over, I go home and play on the computer. I'm hooked on Counter Strike, a shooting game.
Pride : Do you have a family?
Sentoryu : I have a wife, Maki. No kids yet.