Want to attract Americans to a new sport? Reward winners with beer and other alcohol. Let them eat whatever they want on the sidelines. These perks are a few of the things making sumo wrestling popular in America, at least according to a recent Washington Post article.
A rising sport in America, sumo wrestling participants are still mainly immigrants or foreigners. But for an American population that seems not to be weight conscious (models and actors aside), sumo wresting offers a sport where bigger is better.
But to my surprise not all sumo wrestlers are heavy weights. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. Sumo Open offered weight classes — lightweight (under 187 lbs), middleweight (187 to 253 lbs) and heavyweight (over 253 lbs).
Even more surprising to me was sumo wrestling has a female division. Yes, the women wear the mawashi (the canvas belt-like thong) too, but usually with shorts underneath.
An unlike my first impression, sumo wrestling is more than a match of brute force. It’s about speed and strategy too.
And who could not like a sport where the athletes snack in between matches, where tournaments take a break for lunch, and where at the end of the event everyone heads for the buffet.
The Stanley Cup and the Heisman Trophy have nothing on the prizes for this sport. Winners in sumo matches “not only get a medal, but are awarded a 12-pack of Sapporo beer or an extra large bottle of sake.”
Of course, in true American fashion, American sumo wrestling has been modified from the original Japanese sport to include, among other things, showboating.
While I probably won’t be camping out for tickets to the next sumo event, the sport is intriguing. And if I can tolerate the butt cheeks, maybe I’ll catch a match.
(photo courtesy of usasumo.com)