Sumo wrestling is often associated with two fat men in loin clothes trying to shove each other outside of the ring. But it is more than that. Sumo is heavy in ritual – and the athletes, while obese, are still athletes with strength and endurance.
Saturday night, G took me to a Living Social event called Sushi & Sumo. Food, drinks, and sumo in an intimate setting at a neat venue. It was quite good – and the goal of the wrestlers, I think, was to make sumo accessible by explaining the sport. There were three Sumo wrestlers – Kelly Gneiting, the oldest of the three from the US who is also holds the record for the largest man to finish a marathon (3 times), Yamamotoyama, a retired Sumo wrestler known as the biggest Sumo wrestler weighing in at over 600lbs, and four time world Sumo champion Byambajav Ulambayar from Mongolia.
In short, it was awesome. These three wrestlers have amazing personalities that lit up the night – bringing energy to the crowd who was, at times, uncertain of what to do or say. In fact, at one point, the announcer – a lightweight sumo wrestler himself – encouraged everyone to shout whatever they wanted to. So “sweep the leg” became a popular one. The seven volunteers who wrestled the pros capped the night off with a hilarity that made me almost cry as I laughed at one woman’s attempt to mount Kelly in an attempt to take him down.
My only regret? I only had my cell phone.