Jump to content

Baruto Kaito

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Baruto Kaito
把瑠都 凱斗
Baruto in 2011
Personal information
BornKaido Höövelson
(1984-11-05) 5 November 1984 (age 39)
Väike-Maarja, Lääne-Viru County, Estonia[1]
Height1.99 m (6 ft 6+12 in)
Weight183 kg (403 lb; 28.8 st)
DebutMay 2004
Highest rankŌzeki (May 2010)
RetiredSeptember 2013
Championships1 (Makuuchi)
3 (Jūryō)
1 (Makushita)
1 (Jonidan)
1 (Jonokuchi)
Special PrizesFighting Spirit (5)
Outstanding Performance (1)
Technique (1)

Kaido Höövelson (known professionally as Baruto Kaito 把瑠都 凱斗; born 5 November 1984) is an Estonian politician and former professional sumo wrestler.[2] Making his debut in May 2004, he reached the top division after just two years in sumo in May 2006. After suffering a number of injury problems in 2007 which delayed his progress, he reached the third-highest rank of sekiwake in November 2008, and was promoted to ōzeki rank after finishing the March 2010 tournament with a score of 14–1.[3] He was a tournament runner-up four times before recording a top division championship in the 2012 January tournament. During his career Baruto also earned five special prizes for Fighting Spirit, one for Outstanding Performance and one for Technique. He lost his ōzeki rank after more injury problems at the end of 2012, and having fallen greatly in rank after withdrawing from the May 2013 tournament, he announced his retirement in September of that year at the age of 28.[4]

After retirement from sumo Höövelson has been involved in different business ventures, mixed martial arts, acting, and politics. In March 2019 he was elected to the Riigikogu.

Early life and sumo background[edit]

Höövelson was born in Väike-Maarja, but grew up in the nearby Rohu village in current Vinni Parish.[2] His family owned a cattle farm and he became accustomed to hard physical labour as a child.[5] His father died when Höövelson was sixteen years old and he worked as a nightclub bouncer to earn a living.[6]

Baruto outside a September 2008 tournament

He played basketball as a teenager and also won a national judo championship in Estonia.[7]

He was introduced to amateur sumo when he was a little boy through his judo coach Riho Rannikmaa, and an official from the Kagoshima Prefecture Sumo Association, Kazuo Kurazono, encouraged him to join the professional sport.[7] Due to the restrictions on foreigners entering sumo, the only stable with a place available was Mihogaseki.[7] He came to Japan with a friend from Estonia, Ott Juurikas, who entered Irumagawa stable and fought under the name of Kitaoji but quit after only one tournament.[8] Höövelson was given the shikona or fighting name of Baruto, a reference to the Japanese name of the Baltic Sea, and made his professional debut in May 2004. He moved very quickly up the rankings, reaching the jūryō division after only eight tournaments (tied for the third-fastest rise to sekitori status since 1958 when the current six-tournament-a-year format was adopted) and compiling a record of 41–8 on the way.

Baruto won the jūryō division March 2006 honbasho tournament with a perfect 15–0 result. This was only the fourth time ever that a jūryō wrestler has won the championship with such a record. He was the first to achieve this since Kitanofuji, who ultimately reached the top yokozuna rank, in 1963.[9] As a result of this performance he was promoted to makuuchi, the highest division, for the first time in his career in May 2006. It is likely that Baruto could have achieved a more rapid rise to the top division, were it not for him suffering from appendicitis in November 2005, the resulting absence from the tournament sending him back down to the third-highest makushita division temporarily. Despite this, his rise to the top division in two years is equal to the second-fastest ever.

Top division career[edit]

In his first tournament in the top division Baruto scored a strong 11–4 record and won the kantō-shō (or Fighting Spirit Prize). After a second winning record in July and another promotion, Baruto's quick ascent through the ranks halted at maegashira 1. He withdrew from the September tournament with an injury, which lowered his standing to maegashira 6 in the November tournament. The result of 10–5 there took him up to maegashira 3, but he was again injured in the January 2007 tournament. He suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He was unable to compete in the March tournament as well and his ranking suffered, resulting in a return to the jūryō ranks. In May he won the jūryō championship with a 14–1 record, resulting in an immediate return to makuuchi in July to the position of maegashira 14 East. However, he re-injured his knee on the opening day and decided to withdraw from the tournament.[10] It was the third time he had injured the knee, each time in a different place. He opted against surgery, which would have required a lengthy lay-off.

In September 2007, despite being clearly still troubled by his knee, he took his third jūryō division championship with a 13–2 record. This was enough to earn promotion back to the top division for November. He was in contention for the championship until the final days of the tournament when he was defeated by ōzeki Chiyotaikai and komusubi Ama. He finished with an 11–4 record and was awarded his second Fighting Spirit Prize.

Baruto in May 2009

In the January 2008 tournament Baruto produced a 7–8 score, the first time in his career that he has completed a tournament and finished with more losses than wins. He performed much better in March, finishing as joint runner-up with 12 wins and being awarded another Fighting Spirit Prize. In the May 2008 tournament he was unable to defeat any of the top rankers and could only manage five wins. In the July 2008 tournament, Baruto finished with a 10–5 score, assuring a komusubi debut in September.

In his first appearance as komusubi in the September tournament, Baruto managed an 8–7 score, while having a less than perfect start to the tournament. He was just 2–7 after 9 bouts where he competed with only the titled ranks of san'yaku wrestlers. His last six matches were against wrestlers from the maegashira ranks and there Baruto managed to hold his ground. He was promoted to sekiwake rank for the Kyushu Basho in November, as the west sekiwake Toyonoshima could not hold his position after a 6–9 finish in the Aki Basho, thus leaving an opening for the position. He came through with a winning record in his sekiwake debut.

Baruto had an excellent start to the January 2009 tournament, winning his first six matches. However, he began losing in the second week and finished on 9–6. By contrast, he struggled during the first week of the March tournament in facing the top ranked wrestlers and stood at 3–6 after nine days, but he maintained his rank with a kachi-koshi victory on the final day. He is the first sekiwake to hold his rank for four straight tournaments since his debut since Asashōryū in 2002.[11] He lost the rank in May 2009, but fighting from the maegashira 3 position in July he produced a strong 11–4 record and returned to the komusubi rank for the September tournament. There he became the first non-yokozuna since Hoshi in 1986 to defeat five ōzeki in one tournament. He finished with a fine 12–3 record, guaranteeing his return to sekiwake, and was awarded his fourth Fighting Spirit prize. He scored nine wins in the next tournament.

Ōzeki promotion[edit]

Baruto at the January 2010 basho in Tokyo

On the seventh day of the January 2010 tournament he finally managed to defeat a yokozuna, Hakuhō, by sukuinage, or beltless arm throw, his first win over a yokozuna in nineteen attempts. This earned him his first Outstanding Performance award, and he finished on 12–3. He became only the third wrestler to compile 33 wins over three tournaments in a san'yaku rank and not be promoted to ōzeki, following Kotogahama in 1957 and Miyabiyama (twice) in 2006. At the March tournament in Osaka it was indicated by Sumo Association official Tomozuna Oyakata that he would need to win at least 13 bouts and be in contention for the yūshō to earn ōzeki promotion.[12] Baruto was nursing an injury to his left thumb throughout the basho,[13] which he picked up in a training session with Aran. However, he produced his best score in the top division to date of 14–1, and lost only to Hakuhō on Day 11. He was in contention for the championship until the final bout of the tournament, which Hakuhō won over Harumafuji to complete an undefeated 15–0 performance. Baruto was rewarded with special prizes for Fighting Spirit and Technique, the first time since Kotomitsuki in July 2007 that one wrestler has received two prizes in the same tournament.[3]

Baruto's promotion was officially confirmed by the Sumo Association on March 31. Speaking to reporters at his Onoe stable, he said, "I want to be cheerful and be an ōzeki that can live up to the expectations of the fans." He also made clear his determination to win the yūshō, as "unless I win a championship I can't move up to yokozuna."[9] However, for a significant period he was not able to challenge for the championship as an ōzeki, his best score never being higher than 11–4. This changed in January 2012, when after he recorded 13 straight wins and his nearest challenger yokozuna Hakuhō suffered three losses in four bouts, he took the championship with two days left to spare.[14] This made him the ninth foreigner, and the second from Europe after Kotoōshū, to win a top division championship.[14] He finished on 14–1, denied a perfect record by Hakuhō on the final day.[15] He was told he had to win the next tournament or be in contention until the final day to earn a shot at yokozuna promotion, but Baruto told reporters the day after celebrating his victory, "If I can wrestle at the spring basho like I did at the New Year meet, results will follow. Once you win one tournament, you want to win a second, a third, a 10th and a 30th."[16] At the Osaka tournament in March he stood at 9–1 after ten days, but lost four of his last five matches to finish on a disappointing 10–5, putting any hopes for yokozuna promotion back to square one. Baruto had been suffering from a fever during the tournament and said afterwards that talk of yokozuna was just "journalistic chatter ... that wasn't my goal in this tournament."[17]

Loss of rank[edit]

Baruto was kadoban, or in danger of demotion from ōzeki, after he pulled out of the Aki basho in September 2012 on the 4th day after injuring the big toe on his right foot before the tournament.[18] Needing at least eight wins to preserve his rank in the Kyushu tournament in November, he instead had to withdraw once again on Day 3 after injuring a thigh muscle, and was demoted back to sekiwake.[19] Needing ten wins in the January 2013 tournament, he lost his chance of an immediate return to ōzeki on Day 13 when he fell to his sixth defeat.[20] He would have had to win 32 or 33 bouts in three consecutive tournaments in makuuchi to earn promotion to ōzeki again.[21] Because he sat out the summer tournament 2013 due to injury, he was demoted to the jūryō division in September 2013 and chose to retire on September 11.[4]

Fighting style[edit]

Baruto had a solid and straightforward yotsu-sumo style, concentrating on techniques which involved grabbing the opponent's mawashi or belt. He preferred a migi-yotsu grip, with his right hand inside and left hand outside his opponent's arms. His most common winning kimarite or technique was overwhelmingly yori-kiri, or force out. Due to his great strength he was known for using tsuri-dashi, or lift out, a technique which has declined in recent years because of the increasing weight of wrestlers. Baruto used this technique three times in the July 2009 tournament alone. His great height meant he could reach over his shorter opponents' back to do this, but this unorthodox way of lifting placed a strain on his joints and eventually led to knee problems.[8] He also frequently used uwatenage, or overarm throw. He was forced to change his yotsu style in his successful ōzeki promotion basho of March 2010, as his thumb injury meant he was less effective on the mawashi, and he used a more aggressive slapping and thrusting attack instead.[22]

At 188 kilograms (414 pounds; 29.6 stone), Baruto was the second-heaviest man in the top division at the time, after Gagamaru. He was popular among other wrestlers due to his friendly character and was known for always smiling, win or lose.[5] His stablemaster Onoe Oyakata commented, "All wrestlers have their unique personalities. Baruto is friendly and gentle and he shouldn't change that. He has to win to get promoted but outside the ring I don't want him to forget to smile."[23] Baruto was also known for taking great care not to injure his opponents.[23]

After sumo[edit]

Höövelson at the Arvamusfestival in Paide in 2022

After retirement Baruto became involved in several different business ventures, involving holiday accommodation, cattle breeding, vehicle repair and maintenance, beverage sale, and tourism.[24]

In October 2015 he announced that he would become a mixed martial arts fighter, joining the Rizin Fighting Federation.[25] He told a press conference that he had lost 25 kg (55 lb; 3.9 st) in weight and that he wanted to be "the strongest fighter in the world."[25] On December 31, 2015, he had his first match, defeating Peter Aerts at the Saitama Super Arena. On September 25, 2016, he won by unanimous decision against 45-year-old veteran Kazuyuki Fujita, who announced his retirement afterwards.[26] After four fights, Baruto had three wins against one loss, the single loss being against Mirko Filipović,[27] and said that he "wanted to fix sumo's reputation in the MMA world" after the lack of success of some other ex-sumo professionals who switched to MMA.[28] He is also involved in several charities, including ADHD awareness.[28]

In December 2017, NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, announced that it would air a three-episode series based on author Gengoroh Tagame's manga series My Brother's Husband. The series tells the story of a man named Yaichi, who is struggling to deal with the death of his gay twin brother, Ryoji. Yaichi and his young daughter Kana's lives become disrupted when they meet Ryoji's Canadian husband, Mike Flanagan. Actor Ryuta Sato was cast to play Yaichi and Baruto Kaito was cast for the role of Mike Flanagan. The series premiered in March 2018 on NHK's BS Premium.[29]

Baruto has also taken part in amateur sumo competitions, winning the open weight category at the Estonian national championships in 2018, and he was planning to compete in the European Sumo Championships in Tallinn in April 2019.[30]

Political career[edit]

On September 7, 2018, Höövelson announced that he had joined the Estonian Center Party and had applied for the 2019 Estonian parliamentary election.[31] He ran for election in Harju and Rapla counties, and received 642 votes. Höövelson was elected to the Riigikogu after candidate Vladimir Arhipov declined his seat. One of his goals as an MP was to promote economic relations between Estonia and Japan.[32][33] Running for a different constituency in the 2023 elections, he was defeated.[34]

Personal life[edit]

In 2012 Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves awarded the Order of the White Star to Baruto.

While in Japan Baruto's interests away from the dohyō included coin collecting and pachinko.[8]

In February 2009, Höövelson married Elena Tregubova, a 26-year-old Russian from Vladivostok. They had met four years earlier. The couple was married in Japan.[35] In January 2017, a son was born in their family.[36]

Höövelson is fluent in Estonian, Russian, English, German and Japanese.[37]

Höövelson received the Order of the White Star, 3rd Class in 2012.[38][39]

Career record[edit]

Baruto Kaito[40]
Year January
Hatsu basho, Tokyo
Haru basho, Osaka
Natsu basho, Tokyo
Nagoya basho, Nagoya
Aki basho, Tokyo
Kyūshū basho, Fukuoka
2004 x x (Maezumo) East Jonokuchi #40

East Jonidan #30

West Sandanme #33
2005 East Sandanme #6
West Makushita #32
East Makushita #22
West Makushita #6
West Jūryō #14
West Jūryō #4
2006 West Makushita #3

East Jūryō #11

West Maegashira #11
West Maegashira #4
East Maegashira #1
West Maegashira #6
2007 West Maegashira #3
West Maegashira #13
Sat out due to injury
West Jūryō #11

East Maegashira #14
West Jūryō #9

East Maegashira #16
2008 West Maegashira #6
East Maegashira #7
West Maegashira #1
West Maegashira #5
East Komusubi #1
West Sekiwake #1
2009 East Sekiwake #1
East Sekiwake #1
East Sekiwake #1
West Maegashira #3
East Komusubi #1
East Sekiwake #1
2010 East Sekiwake #1
East Sekiwake #1
West Ōzeki #3
East Ōzeki #1
East Ōzeki #2
West Ōzeki #1
2011 West Ōzeki #1
East Ōzeki #2
Tournament Cancelled
East Ōzeki #2
East Ōzeki #1
West Ōzeki #1
East Ōzeki #1
2012 East Ōzeki #1
East Ōzeki #1
West Ōzeki #1
East Ōzeki #2
West Ōzeki #2
East Ōzeki #3
2013 West Sekiwake #1
West Sekiwake #1
West Sekiwake #1
East Maegashira #6
Sat out due to injury
East Jūryō #3
Record given as wins–losses–absencies    Top division champion Top division runner-up Retired Lower divisions Non-participation

Sanshō key: F=Fighting spirit; O=Outstanding performance; T=Technique     Also shown: =Kinboshi; P=Playoff(s)
Divisions: MakuuchiJūryōMakushitaSandanmeJonidanJonokuchi

Makuuchi ranks: YokozunaŌzekiSekiwakeKomusubiMaegashira

Mixed martial arts record[edit]

Professional record breakdown
4 matches 3 wins 1 loss
By knockout 0 1
By decision 3 0
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 3–1 Mirko Cro Cop TKO (knee to the body) Rizin World Grand-Prix 2016: Final Round December 31, 2016 1 0:49 Saitama, Japan 2016 Rizin Openweight Grand Prix Semifinal.
Win 3–0 Tsuyoshi Kohsaka Decision (unanimous) Rizin World Grand-Prix 2016: 2nd Round December 29, 2016 2 5:00 Saitama, Japan 2016 Rizin Openweight Grand Prix Quarterfinal.
Win 2–0 Kazuyuki Fujita Decision (unanimous) Rizin World Grand-Prix 2016: 1st Round September 25, 2016 2 5:00 Saitama, Japan 2016 Rizin Openweight Grand Prix First Round.
Win 1–0 Peter Aerts Decision (unanimous) Rizin World Grand-Prix 2015: Part 2 – Iza December 31, 2015 3 3:00 Saitama, Japan

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kaneva, Nadia (2011). Branding Post-Communist Nations: Marketizing National Identities in the "New" Europe. Routledge. p. 88. ISBN 978-1136658006.
  2. ^ a b "Baruto". Meiebaruto.ee. Archived from the original on 2011-08-05.
  3. ^ a b "Sumo: Hakuho wins Osaka basho with flawless record". Mainichi Daily News. 29 March 2010. Archived from the original on 18 February 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Baruto retires from sumo at age 28". The Japan Times. 11 September 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  5. ^ a b "'Sumo is beautiful': Estonian Baruto Kaito's rough road to the top". Mainichi Daily News. 29 March 2010. Archived from the original on 1 April 2010. Retrieved 29 March 2010.
  6. ^ Willacy, Mark (2009-06-09). "Sumo Confidential". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 2011-10-19. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
  7. ^ a b c Buckton, Mark (June 2006). "SFM Interview: Baruto". Sumo Fan Magazine. Archived from the original on 31 May 2008. Retrieved 29 May 2008.
  8. ^ a b c "Baruto overcame obstacles to become ozeki". The Japan Times. 12 November 2019. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Sumo: Estonian wrestler Baruto promoted to ōzeki". Mainichi Daily News. 31 March 2010. Archived from the original on 3 April 2010. Retrieved 31 March 2010.
  10. ^ Japan Today – News – Estonian wrestler Baruto withdraws from Nagoya meet
  11. ^ "2009 May Grand Sumo Tournament Banzuke Topics". Japan Sumo Association. April 2009. Archived from the original on 9 July 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2009.
  12. ^ "Baruto vajab ozekiks tõusmiseks vähemalt 13 võitu" (in Estonian). Postimees. 16 March 2010. Archived from the original on 22 March 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
  13. ^ "Hakuho off to flying start in Osaka". The Japan Times. 15 March 2010. Archived from the original on 23 March 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
  14. ^ a b Hueston, Dave (21 January 2012). "Baruto wins New Year basho". Japan Times. Archived from the original on 24 January 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
  15. ^ "Sumo: Hakuho denies Baruto perfect record on final day of New Year sumo". Mainichi Daily News. 23 January 2012. Archived from the original on 26 January 2012.
  16. ^ "Sumo: Baruto basking in victory after night of celebration". Mainichi Daily News. 23 January 2012. Archived from the original on 26 January 2012.
  17. ^ "Baruto Has Sights Set on Yokozuna Title After Disappointing Tournament". ERR News. 27 March 2012. Archived from the original on 28 March 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  18. ^ "SUMO/ Hakuho, Harumafuji remain impressive on Day 4". Asahi Shimbun. 12 September 2012. Archived from the original on 1 November 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  19. ^ "SUMO/ Hakuho stays one win ahead of Harumafuji on Day 3". Asahi Shimbun. 13 November 2012. Archived from the original on 19 April 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  20. ^ "Harumafuji claims perfect record". Asahi Shimbun. 25 January 2013. Archived from the original on 29 January 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  21. ^ "Baruto Loses, Ozeki Hopes Crushed". Estonian Public Broadcasting. 25 January 2013. Archived from the original on 27 January 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  22. ^ "Baruto reveals injury forced tactical switch". Japan Times. 30 March 2010. Archived from the original on 29 April 2010. Retrieved 29 March 2010.
  23. ^ a b Hueston, Dave (29 April 2010). "Estonian Baruto aims for sumo's top rank". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on 1 May 2010. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
  24. ^ Mets, Mari (8 March 2015). "Baruto seitse äri" (in Estonian). Äripäev. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  25. ^ a b "Ex-ozeki Baruto awaits mixed martial arts debut". Japan Times. 22 October 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  26. ^ Hughes, Jake (25 September 2016). "Quick Results: Rizin World Grand-Prix 2016, Opening Round". Fightland. Archived from the original on 2016-09-28. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
  27. ^ "Baruto (Estonia) vs Mirko CRO COP Filipovic (Croatia)". YouTube. 31 December 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2023.
  28. ^ a b Strusiewicz, Cezary (4 July 2017). "From Chonmage to Chokeholds". Metropolis Japan. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  29. ^ "Japan's national broadcaster orders TV show about gay couple". Pink News. 6 December 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  30. ^ Gunning, John (6 February 2019). "European sumo overcomes schism to build popularity". The Japan Times. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  31. ^ Cavegn, Dario (7 September 2018). "Former professional sumo wrestler Kaido Höövelson joins Centre Party". ERR News. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  32. ^ Vahtla, Aili (5 March 2019). "Maardu mayor passes Riigikogu seat on to Baruto". ERR News. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  33. ^ "Ex-sumo wrestler Baruto becomes Estonian lawmaker". NHK World - Japan. 4 April 2019. Archived from the original on 4 April 2019. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  34. ^ "エストニア、対ロシア強硬の首相与党が圧勝 議会選". Nikkei.com (in Japanese). 6 March 2023. Retrieved 23 May 2023.
  35. ^ "Baruto abiellus!" [Baruto married!] (in Estonian). Postimees. 20 February 2009.
  36. ^ "Palju õnne! Kaido Höövelsoni ehk Baruto perre sündis poeg" (in Estonian). Maaleht. 10 January 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  37. ^ "5カ国語操る元力士、いまは国会議員 「把瑠都」に聞いた、小国のいいところ:朝日新聞GLOBE+". 朝日新聞GLOBE+ (in Japanese). 2022-08-26.
  38. ^ "Barutole omistati Valgetähe III klassi orden" [Baruto is awarded the Order of the White Star Class III] (in Estonian). Eesti Rahvusringhääling. 1 Feb 2012.
  39. ^ "Baruto saab presidendilt Valgetähe ordeni" [Baruto is the President of the Order of the White Star]. Postimees (in Estonian). 1 Feb 2012.
  40. ^ "Baruto Kaito Rikishi Information". Sumo Reference. Retrieved 2013-01-27.
  41. ^ 15. September 2014, Anette Busch - Female Sumo Wrestler, historyoffighting.com
  42. ^ 16. October 2009, 00:00, Jaak Valdre, Enne Barutot hullutas jaapanlasi Eesti naine!, ohtuleht.ee

External links[edit]