All you want to know: How much are sumo wrestlers paid?

People are led to believe that sumo wrestlers don't get much. I'm here to tell you that they do.

Many people believe that sumo wrestling is not a well-paid sport but I am here to tell you that it is actually very well paid if you make it to the top 2 divisions. We are using the conversion rate of 100 yen = 1 dollar

Division 6, also known as Jonokuchi, is the very lowest level of the sumo pyramid after Maezumo (first bout). These lads are usually the high school champions starting at the age of 16 or 17, and they are given $386/mo allowance ($4,632/yr) which is pretty much pocket money. Winners of the Division 6 championship get a full $1,000 for the title.

Division 5, also known as Jonidan, is the 2nd level in the sumo pyramid. The allowance increases from $386 to $440/mo ($5,280/yr) which again, is pretty much pocket money. Winners of the Division 5 championship get $2,000 for the title.

Division 4, also known as Sandanme, is the 3rd level in the sumo pyramid. The allowance moves up from $440 to $550/mo ($6,600/yr) which at this point, will probably get you an old used car in Japan. Winners of the Division 4 championship get $3,000 for the title.

Division 3, also known as Makushita, is the 4th level in the sumo pyramid. The allowance substantially increases from $550 to $825/mo ($9,900/yr). Winners of the Division 3 championship get a cool $10,000 for the title.

Division 2, also known as Juryo, is the 5th level in the sumo pyramid. The allowance becomes a salary and the payment is $11,000/mo ($132,000/yr) regardless of Juryo rank (fixed at 28 wrestlers) with 2 bonuses of $22,000 total which are paid out in January and September. They are also handed a $6,800 travel allowance for touring and expenses. Winners of the Division 2 championship get $20,000 for the title.

Division 1, also known as Makuuchi, is the final level in the sumo pyramid. The salaries increase via the ranking you are at.

Maegashira rank is given $14,000/mo ($168,000/yr) with a $8300 travel allowance

Komusubi and Sekiwake ranks are given $18,000/mo ($216,000/yr) with a $9,500 travel allowance

Ozeki rank is given $25,000/mo ($300,000/yr) with a one-off promotion bonus of $5,000 and a $13,000 travel allowance

Yokozuna rank is given $30,000/yr ($360,000/yr) with a one-off promotion bonus of $10,000 and a $19,000 travel allowance.

Special Prizes are worth $20,000 apiece and the Division 1 championship title is worth $100,000.

During bouts, some will receive "cash envelopes" which are worth $300 apiece. Those are sponsorship prizes after deductions of taxes, admin fees, and mutual fund contributions. A wrestler could receive as many as 100 ($30,000) to as few as 1 ($300) or none at all. These are paid out during the tournament through the 15-day span.

Wrestlers also get incentive pay increases if their record is more wins than losses. It also increases with each title or a perfect record.

If a maegashira defeats a yokozuna in a bout (kinboshi), he is given a $400 increase in his monthly salary. Akinoshima, who was known as "the giant killer", picked up 16 of these wins. Picking up an extra $6,400 a month ($76,800/yr) in pay to go along with his salary.

Asashoryu was probably the first million-dollar-a-year salaried wrestler as he earned over $50-$75 million thanks to salary, sponsorships, and so on.

Hakuho, now retired, was one of the best paid at nearly $2,000,000 per year.

However, big news came around.

Japan Sumo Association to raise winning prize money in each division starting next year thanks to strong advertising and attendance numbers.

In a shocking development in the Japan Sumo Association, the board has agreed to a substantial increase in the prize money handed out to tourney winners, special prizes, and along with raises in salaries in Division 1 and 2. The prize money format has not changed since 2000 and this comes on the heels of new revenue sources for sumo and more people tuning into the tournaments now that dominance of generational, 45-time winner Hakuho has retired and gone into coaching. Sumo is also seeing new sponsorships as such. All of this will take place next year

Base pay per month currently

Yokozuna: $30,000
Ozeki: $25,000
Sekiwake: $18,000
Komusubi: $18,000
Maegashira: $14,000
Juryo-Division 2: $11,000

Base pay per month with 2024 increase

Yokozuna: $50,000
Ozeki: $42,000
Sekiwake: $35,000
Komusubi: $25,000
Maegashira: $20,000
Juryo-Division 2: $13,000

Makushita, Sandanme, Jonidan, Jonokuchi will see at least up to a 30% increase in allowances as wrestlers have been vocal in their complaints that despite being in the lower divisions, they should get a bigger chunk of allowance money.

Special Prize money will increase from $20,000 per prize to $50,000 per prize with a $100,000 bonus for a Special Prize Sweep (Last occurrence in 2000).

Division 1 Championship winning prize money which has long been stagnant for the last 30 years will see an incredible increase from $100,000 per championship victory to $250,000 per championship victory.

However, with the pay increases, wrestlers will see their retirement money rolled back by at least 20% which many wrestlers in Division 1 and 2 are in agreement with.

Japan's Sumo board said that they have been discussing this increase for quite some time as salaries have been stagnated and standardized for the last 23 years. Chairman Hakkaku said that time was definitely right.

The sumo association will also ask wrestlers to attend financial seminars to manage their money.

So yes, sumo wrestlers, if you make the top ranks, you get a lot of cash.

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Joshua Leuschner

Orioles/Ravens/Capitals/Terrapins/Inter Miami CF fan. Runs a podcast who tells it like it is (I-95 East Coast Sports Podcast) and loves sports, sports betting (responsibly of course), and finding arcane statistics in professional sports. He is also a devoted classic cartoon enthusiast (1930s rubberhose and 1940s-1960s silver/golden age animation), video game player, Enya enthusiast, devotee of classical music (Mozart, Sibelius, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and others), Hair/Classic/80s Rock fan, beer connoisseur, gym goer, former Slow Pitch Softball Player, and traveler.

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