Vegas braced for the ultimate heavyweights

With 45 wrestlers taking part, the Grand Sumo Tournament, hosted by the Mandalay Bay Resort, has been hailed as the first such high-level, officially-sanctioned sumo contest to be held in the United States for more than two decades. Organisers are hoping that it will spur its popularity in North America.

"I hope people fall in love with the sport," said Musashimaru, a retired grand champion, or yokozuana. Installed in Las Vegas for the long holiday weekend, Musashimaru is famed for moving from Samoa to Japan to become the first-ever non-Japanese to attain the rank of champion.

It remains to be seen what visitors to Las Vegas make of sumo wrestling, best known for the bulk of its participants, who can weigh 300lbs or more, for their hair tied in top-knots and, most of all, for the immodesty of their outfits in the ring. They grapple with swaddling that is both a belt and loincloth. At least keeping their weight up shouldn't be a challenge in a city famous for all-you-can-eat buffets in virtually every casino resort up and down the Strip, and for the most part open 24 hours a day. Serious wrestlers normally spend their mornings training before stopping to eat considerable lunches. They then sleep during the afternoons in order to bulk up. "We need rice, we need to keep healthy," said Musashimaru.

The Mandalay, with its oriental theme, will not have a problem serving the fighters all the rice they need. Otherwise, the Asian cuisine is a highlight of the buffet at the Aladdin Casino, just a few blocks down the Strip.

Dating back more than 1,500 years, sumo wrestling is a highly revered and carefully supervised sport in Japan. First-timers in the audience may wonder where its intricacies lie, however. A bout can sometimes last only a few seconds, where the aim of each wrestler is either to shove his opponent out of the ring - the Dohyo - or lift him from his feet and make another part of his body touch the floor.

The Mandalay, which is a favourite venue for the big boxing bouts in Las Vegas, had to rebuild its ring for the three-day sumo tournament. Once that was done, the ring received a blessing in a traditional Shinto ceremony last Tuesday, ahead of the opening bouts of the competition last night.

A spokesman for the Grand Sumo Association of Japan was non-committal about Las Vegas as a future regular stop on the sumo wrestling calendar. But he did not rule it out. "If this is a very successful event, there is a chance of us coming back to Las Vegas," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
life
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballI have never seen the point of lambasting the fourth official, writes Paul Scholes
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: External Relations Executive

£33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An External Relations Executive is requi...

Ashdown Group: Web Developer (PHP & Wordpress) - Central London

£25000 - £28000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Web Dev...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative - Unskilled & Skilled

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen to jo...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Law Firm - Bromley

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Market...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee