Since I first helped bring the annual California Sumo Open Downtown - it has exploded in popularity. After filling a hotel ballroom to turn away crowds two years ago and packing the Convention Center last year - it is now in the Sports Arena in Exposition Park where an even larger crowd is expected
The reason is that Sumo is the first marital art and there is a reason why it has lasted. It is one of the fasted paced of all sports and in just one minute, you can learn all you need to know to enjoy the matches. Few sports provide as much entertainment value to a first time spectator:
It’s a lot more than just belly-bouncing
U.S. Sumo Open is authentic look at Japanese sport
April 5, 2007
Think of sumo wrestling, and you might envision two men bouncing their bellies off each other. But nothing could be further from the truth, says California Sumo Assn. director Andrew Freund. To prove his point, the association is holding its seventh annual U.S. Sumo Open this Saturday at the Los Angeles Sports Arena for those wanting a more authentic look at the ancient Japanese sport.
"What they'll see are guys slamming their heads into each other like two bulls," says Freund, who will be announcing the event. "They'll see agility, they'll see speed, and they'll see guys literally flying out of the ring." But no belly-bouncing — despite what you may have seen in TV commercials featuring obese actors.
Attendees will also see some of the world's best amateur sumo wrestlers. Among the 50 scheduled competitors (including eight women) are heavyweights Byambajav Ulambayar (Mongolia), the reigning World Championship gold medalist; Hans Borg (Norway), a two-time World Championship medalist; and Wayne Vierra (Hawaii), a 2006 U.S. Sumo Open silver medalist.
The tournament has close to 100 matches in four divisions (light-, middle-, heavyweight and open), and though last year's spectacular lightweight final lasted nearly three minutes, other matches can be over in as little as two seconds. If you happen to blink, big screens will be available to replay all the important action.
And for fans who wish to sample Japan's other cultural offerings, get to the Sports Arena early. According to Freund, the sushi, Sapporo beer and Hakutsuru sake sold out in less than an hour at last year's event.
— Alex Chun
U.S. Sumo Open, Los Angeles Sports Arena, 3939 S. Figueroa St., L.A. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, main event begins at 12:30 p.m. $25, adults; $15, 2 to 18. (310) 288-3641, www.usasumo.comv.+
And in the Downtown News:
# U.S. Sumo Open at the Los Angeles Sports Arena: While talk of Los Angeles as the home of the 2016 Olympic Games is filling headlines, the U.S. Sumo Open is filling seats, literally. On April 7, Downtown will once again host some of the largest athletes in the world when the seventh annual competition arrives at the Los Angeles Sports Arena in Exposition Park. Last year, an attorney, an LAPD officer and a 500-pound opera singer were among the more than 40 sumo wrestlers who threw down. This year, the competition will once again feature wrestlers from all over the world, including a healthy contingent from Japan. Also on hand will be current world sumo champion Byambajav Ulambayar, who will return to defend his title.
The U.S. Sumo Open is April 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, 3939 S. Figueroa St., (213) 480-3232 or usasumo.com.