Rakuten Sports is partnering with yet another globally recognized athlete with roots in Japan at the top of their sporting game: world champion skateboarder Yuto Horigome.
Unveiled at a press event in April, the partnership will see the 23-year-old professional skateboarder represent Rakuten both in Japan and around the world, working to broaden the appeal of professional skateboarding as a Rakuten brand ambassador.
“I’m really looking forward to working with Rakuten to make skateboarding more popular in Japan.”Yuto Horigome, Professional Skateboarder
A sport on the rise
With origins in the United States, many associate skateboarding with the street scene of the 1990s. Today, however, the sport is undergoing a major shift as major professional tournaments continue to gain prominence, and skateboarding is featured at more and more global multi-sport events.
Yuto Horigome’s career has grown alongside this evolution, and he has become the face of the modern pro skating world. He first jumped on a skateboard at the age of six, encouraged by his father. As a teenager, he began competing in tournaments in Japan, before making his way to the United States to further hone his skills.
In 2018, he won all three men’s events of the prestigious Street League, one of the skateboarding world’s most prominent professional tournament series. Since then, Horigome has continued racking up tournament wins.
He took gold at the first ever Olympic men’s street skateboarding event in Tokyo in 2021, transforming him into a household name in Japan and boosting the profile of the skateboarding discipline as a whole.
Ambassador for the next generation
“I’m really looking forward to working with Rakuten to make skateboarding more popular in Japan,” Horigome told reporters. The new partnership with Rakuten Sports will see him become a brand ambassador, representing Rakuten both in Japan and around the globe.
“I definitely want to continue competing in tournaments and remain active on the street scene,” he said. “But Rakuten has the capability to do things that I was never able to do, and that’s something I want to make the most of with this partnership. That means events, contests, schools — I hope I can learn while doing these things with Rakuten and continue chasing my dreams.”
Plans are also in the works for a number of initiatives with Horigome that will foster skateboarding culture and inspire a new generation of skateboarders, including events, merchandising and the creation of a new digital academy to help young athletes hone their skills.
“Japan in particular is seeing more and more people taking up skateboarding, from small children all the way up to athletes my age. They are skating at a high level, so I’m excited for the future. I’m really looking forward to being able to support the next generation of skaters,” he told reporters. “I would love to interact with them through events with Rakuten here in Japan, to give a dream to these new kids.”
Another win for Rakuten Sports
Rakuten has been active in the world of sports since 2004, when it entered Japan’s professional baseball league with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, and the J.League with Vissel Kobe. Extensive partnerships in basketball, European soccer, tennis, golf, endurance racing and surfing have since followed, bringing a number of exciting events with prominent teams and players to Japan.
Collaborations with high-profile players such as Stephen Curry of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors (of whom Horigome is a self-professed fan) have made possible a number of community-focused talent fostering programs. Meanwhile, Rakuten Sports has been actively empowering Japanese athletes representing Rakuten around the world, partnering with pro golfer Mone Inami, alongside Japanese basketballers Rui Machida, Yuki Kawamura and Yudai Baba.
With skateboarding champion Yuto Horigome now on deck, Rakuten Sports is looking to empower yet another Japanese athlete, while boosting the profile of professional skateboarding back home in Japan.