There are three sports that I wish I could watch regularly but are not on American television–curling, rugby and sumo wrestling. ESPN used to have a half hour Japanese sumo wrestling show, which we watched regularly. But that has long since been taken off the air. So I sit around wishing and hoping. I joined the email list of U.S. Sumo and every year they have a tournament and every year I can’t go. Well, a few days ago, I got an email that said they were coming to D.C.
I shouted to Matt who was in the other room, “We have to go and see sumo!!!”
So I bought the tickets to the Living Social event. We started off at Ren’s Ramen in Wheaton for their delicious Sapporo-style noodles. This small restaurant seats maybe 30 people. It is always packed but we got there just in time to grab the last table. It was miserable out and that comforting bowl of noodles and broth and veggies and meats was exactly what we needed. I also tried the amakaze, a hot fermented rice drink, non-alcoholic. It tasted like warm liquid rice pudding. I had two.
Now we were fully prepared for the sumo demonstration and sake tasting event. The two sumo wrestlers were Kelly, a 435 pound American and five time American champion and Byamba, a 365 pound Mongolian and three time world champion. He had spent time on the sumo circuit in Japan and was on his way to superstardom but at 20 years old decided to move on.
In my humble estimation, Byamba was awesome. He was far smaller and he won every match, even twice picking Kelly up and throwing him out of the ring. He was simply magnificent. You could see why he is a world champion. He did not want to lose. If you know nothing about sumo, I don’t think I can explain it here. But it is not just two fat guys pushing each other. Think of it as two bull elephants trying to push each other off balance and out of the ring. There are techniques for forcing your opponent off balance, and for bringing them down. They expend a tremendous amount of power. Sweat was streaming off them as they tried mightily to move the other colossus. The host explained that usually the sumo wrestler will have one match a day and it might last a few seconds. These guys were doing three demos a day with five matches at each demo. That is a lot of effort. Then they entertained us by pretending to wrestle with some audience members. And Byamba still did not want to lose. He tossed every guy that tried to move him. He finally let a woman beat him. And look at him. The face of an angel.
Here are some photos of the action: