(NEW YORK) — Though he’s nicknamed “Tiny,” a 6-foot-7, 719-pound sumo wrestler is anything but. And now the “World’s Heaviest Athlete” title holder is on a mission to slim down.
Manny Yarbrough has used his weight to his advantage in his career in sumo, and as a child he had to hold back when playing with other kids.
“When I was a child, I played every sport I could but I was always the ‘big kid’ – it was just my luck in life,” he said.
“I’d do what everybody else did growing up, but from the age of about 6 I knew I was bigger than the others and probably always would be,” he added. “When we were playing with friends, I had to remember to hold back so I didn’t hurt anyone”
“It’s partly down to genetics, as it isn’t just weight,” he said. “I have always been tall too. People never used to pay attention to the nutritional value of food, and I was growing pretty fast so needed to eat. My aunt would make big breakfasts because my cousins went out to work – but I wasn’t accustomed to that. I just hung out and ate with them.”
Now, Yarbrough is looking to lose weight as he plans on retiring from the ring in 2014. He fears his weight could keep growing as when he calls it quits, which would lead to serious health problems.
“I’m desperate to get back to my best college shape in time for the nationals next year. It’s the sportsman in me that never-give-up attitude,” he said. “It’s a challenge. I had to give it a shot because of that inner athlete in me pushing me to do it.”
“Once I retire,” he added, “it’s about a quality of life I want to have. I had a ticket cancelled on me on a flight to Italy a few years ago and haven’t flown since through fear it would happen again.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio