How Much Does A Sumo Wrestler Make?
Although relatively underappreciated worldwide, Sumo Wrestling is a national phenomenon in Japan, with the sport and its athletes serving as influential actors within pop and traditional culture. Professional wrestlers are paid a monthly salary based on rank, and an average sekitori can expect to make $120,000 USD annually. However, A sumo wrestler’s earnings can vary significantly based on which division they compete in, their respective ranks, and their performance. Read on to learn how much a sumo wrestler can make.
At a minimum, Sekitori earn a flat monthly salary, which increases with the wrestler’s rank. This salary is determined by the Japan Sumo Association (JSA), which most recently raised the monthly salaries in 2018. The highest rank, Yokozuna, earns three million yen per month (about $22,400 USD). The full list of ranks and their salaries is as follows, from highest rank to lowest.
|Rank||Title||Monthly Salary (Yen)||Monthly Salary (USD)|
|5||Maegashira/ Hiramaku||1.4 Million||~10,500|
Sumo Wrestlers compete in tournaments and earn bonuses based on their performances. Currently, the prize for winning a championship in the Makuuchi, or premier division, is 10 Million Yen, or about $75,000 USD.
Furthermore, Sekitori are awarded additional stipends, called Mochikyūkin, based on their cumulative history in official tournaments. Although the system may seem relatively complicated, wrestlers are essentially assessed a minimum score based on their rank, which increases every time they finish a tournament with a winning record.
Wrestlers can also greatly improve their scores by demonstrating remarkable feats, such as winning a championship with a perfect record (15-0) or upsetting a wrestler of higher rank. Using this score, an additional bonus is calculated, which is paid out six times a year (once every tournament). Some of the strongest Yokozuna, such as Taiho Koki and Chiyonofuji, have accumulated Mochikyūkin scores equivalent to an additional annual income of 24 million yen, or around $179,000 USD.
Because of their popularity, upper-division sumo matches and tournaments are often sponsored events. At these matches, winners are usually awarded prize money in the form of envelopes called kenshokin.
Each envelope represents around 600,000 yen, although wrestlers only receive around 300,000 yen upfront after the JSA takes a tax (some of this tax money is reserved for a wrestler’s retirement). As many as 50 envelopes, corresponding to 1,500,000 yen or about 112,000 USD, have been awarded to winners.
How much do sumo wrestlers make on average?
Professional sumo wrestlers, or sekitori, earn a minimum monthly salary based on their rank. This starts at $10,500 USD for Juyro (lowest rank) and increases to $23,000 USD for Yokozuna (highest rank). Additional bonuses are awarded based on cumulative record or single tournament performance in the form of tournament prize money or sponsorship envelopes. Considering these factors, an average sekitori can expect to make $120,000 USD annually but also have the opportunity to make significantly more.