You read that right – six-foot-eight and six hundred pounds. This tower spectacle of manhood once held the Guinness World Record for the world’s heaviest living athlete. Also, yes, that’s him in the sumo ring battling the comparatively minuscule Jay Leno on the set of “The Tonight Show.” Manny Yarbrough was born in Rahway, New Jersey, but it was clear that he was destined for sumo greatness.
He was only ever in amateur sumo, but he also competed in American martial arts, as a football player, and even enjoyed the spotlight as an actor for a short time. He achieved a brown belt in judo, didn’t have a great record in Mixed Martial Arts, and was in a Bollywood film. He once reached eight hundred pounds, at which point he started to see an obesity specialist.
Akebono Taro – 514 lbs
Telling you that professional sumo wrestler Akebono Taro was five hundred and fourteen pounds doesn’t tell you the entire story. This guy wasn’t just wide; he was also tall – standing six feet, eight inches at his tallest. He was born in Hawaii, joined the sumo trade in Japan in 1988, and swiftly rose up the rankings, reaching the top of the pile in 1990.
In 1992 and 1993, he had a pair of consecutive tournament championships, and that was what helped him make history as the first-ever non-Japanese wrestler to reach the rank of yokozuna, which literally means horizontal rope, and is the highest rank in sumo wrestling. The belt that signifies his rank itself weighs a stunning amount – up to twenty kilograms. Only seventy-three such wrestlers have ever been crowned.
Nate Newton – 6’ 3”, 335 lbs
Big guys in the NFL are practically a dime a dozen, especially on the offensive or defensive lines, but Nate Newton is a little different. At six-foot-three and three hundred and thirty-five pounds, Newton actually outgrew his original position at fullback. There’s a little more, though. His football career began with a slow start on the Washington Redskins in 1983, but he was an offseason member only.
After some time in the USFL, he signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 1986 and played with them for a whopping thirteen years. His final season, 1999, was with the Carolina Panthers. For anybody to play professional football for that long is a big achievement, but for it to be a big guy – who puts a lot more weight on their ankles, knees, and hips with every snap – it’s a full-blown miracle.
Phil Blackmar – 6’ 7”
These days, hearing that a golfer is almost two hundred and fifty pounds doesn’t really raise many eyebrows. That’s most golfers, even if we’re just talking about amateurs. Once you hear that Phil Blackmar is more than six and a half feet tall, it makes a little more sense. While he was on the PGA tour from 1985 to 2000, he was the tallest player on the tour. For that entire time. And he was probably the tallest by a significant margin, too.
Doesn’t having all that extra height give you some sort of advantage? It doesn’t really seem like it, since then we’d be seeing a lot of tall golfers. Maybe it’s just a very minor advantage. Or maybe those big, long muscles make it HARDER to control the ball?
John Isner – 6’ 10”
Now, tennis is a sport that almost certainly divulges an advantage if you have long arms. Just think of how much power you can put into your serve if you stand six feet and ten inches like John Isner! This huge guy is considered one of the best servers ever to play on the ATP tour, and it should be pretty obvious why. Lots and lots of practice, of course. Oh, also, he’s six-foot-infinity.
Isner was ranked as high as number eight in singles and number fourteen in doubles, which is a little amazing. Being one of the best servers in the world must deliver a huge boon to your game – maybe he was so used to acing his opponents that he didn’t have enough time to work on his backhand or something like that.