I think the cheapest seats I have seen for sumo wrestling competition in Japan is about 150 USD. Tickets in Japan can go up to 5K and up for a ringside seat! So when my buddy Dennis told me about an exhibition in San Francisco's Japan Town Mall, I thought, why not!
Sumo wrestling is a 1,500-year-old sport between agricultural communities that became a professional competition today. Sumo in Japanese (相撲) means striking one another. Unlike the WWF in America, there are rules, rituals that bind sumo wrestlers to tradition. Only recently have foreigners enter the sport, most notably from Hawaii. Akebono, Takamiyama, and a few others have become grand champions. There are something like four Mongolian Grand Champions. It has made sumo more of an international sport with new competitors from Russia, Eastern Europe, and Egypt!
Professional sumo wrestlers enter a stable at a young age and train for years. They also follow traditional rules of respect, discipline, and respect to the elders of a sumo stable. It takes years to build the strength, speed, flexibility, and technique to wrestle. Believe it or not, professional sumo needs to be able to show they can do a full split!
Today's match is an exhibition, but it isn't any less fun. J-Town San Francisco has held exhibitions for free over the last years. Today is interesting because it is the first time I have seen a sumo wrestler under 300 lbs. By the way, you don’t want ot be in the first row when there is a throw down. These guys don’t play around! Will post some video when I get a chance! In the meantime, enjoy these photos.
As a strategic consultant, I manage chaos for a living. So travel is easy for me. Heh. I travel to understand people and culture more deeply than a newspaper or tv show could ever tell me. I break bread to build bridges across political and social boundaries. Travel inspires me, teaches me and humbles me such that I appreciate my part of the world more deeply.