31 May 2013

Sport: Japanese sumo wrestler visits American Samoa

11:23 am on 31 May 2013

A Japanese sumo wrestling champion is in American Samoa this week to film footage about his Samoan heritage for a documentary.

Salevaa Atisanoe, whose professional Sumo career began in 1982 and lasted for 15 years, was the first foreigner to reach the rank of ozeki, or champion, in the Japanese sport.

He was born in Hawaii but his parents are from American Samoa.

The 49-year old Atisanoe told state run KVZK TV in Pago Pago that he is visiting his Samoan family in the territory as well as filming footage of his Samoan heritage and way of life for a documentary produced for a Japanese television network.

He says he wants Japanese viewers to know his Samoan roots.

"To understand where my roots come from and my Samoan blood comes from. I want to introduce them to the village that my dad is from because this is my fourth visit. Because they're not too familiar with what Samoa is I really want the Japanese people, who has accepted me as a sumo wrestler, to actually understand where my roots come from."

Salevaa Atisanoe says the documentary also includes video footage of his life in Hawaii, where he grow up and at the same time maintained a Samoan style life.