Reach74 in. (6' 2/187 cm)
Biography(references)A high school stand-out, he finished as high as second in the nation before joining the freestyle wrestling squad of Chuo University, a team which had counted Olympic gold medalists Shozo Sasahara and Osamu Watanabe amongst its ranks. He won the East Japan Freshman championship in his first year and served as their team captain thereafter. Amongst his notable wins was one over future Olympic bronze medalist Takuya Ota. Upon graduating from college, Sakuraba initially thought about remaining with Chuo University as a coach.
Combat ApproachHe employed moves and techniques from professional wrestling, among them spinning sole kicks, jumping stomps, Mongolian chops and baseball slides. Though he wasn't afraid of giving his back to his opponent in order to secure it, Sakuraba would also use the technique as a positional weapon, threatening with it to control his adversary. Renzo Gracie praised his ability to play against his opponent's weaknesses, Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira commended his technical skill, and Mark Kerr called him the world's best technician of his era.
Fighter Trivia(references)He has never cared much about diet and admits to drinking alcohol and being a smoker. Regarding the notable differences in weight between himself and his opponents throughout his career, as well as the banning of IV's for rehydration , Sakuraba has stated through an interpreter that "it doesn't matter if they use a pill or medicine to get bigger or smaller, I just train hard, eat healthy, fight at my weight and try my best to beat them. For me it doesn't matter if they use drugs, but I would not use it. I'm sure it's bad if they use it to win." In June 2021, Sakuraba was a torch bearer for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
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