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Arts and Entertainment

Five Reasons To Catch the US Sumo Open This Saturday

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Photo by Chuck Green

1. This is the perfect primer. The Grand Sumo Tournament was held in Los Angeles back in June. It was a great showcase of traditional sumo, complete with ceremonial performances and an air of formality. The open is more what you’d see if sumo were an Olympic sport. If you’ve never seen sumo wrestling before, the diversity of wrestlers, many of whom are part-timers (this year includes a rock drummer and an opera singer) adds some sizzle to the proceedings. The announcers are also helpful about guiding the audience through the details of what's happening in the ring. With general seating tickets going for a measly $15 (just a tiny bit more than a seat at the Arclight), the price is right for both the casual and curious.

2. The big three. As in sake, sushi and yakisoba. Since one of the official sponsors is Hakutsuru Sake, guests can expect routine raffle prizes that include entire cases of the good stuff. The booze and food will flow freely throughout the day.

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3. There’s a ladies division. This is always one of the highlights of the event. The women's division offers the same brand of kinetic action as the men's, but in a surprisingly petite and graceful package. Last year's competition included one woman who competed on a prosthetic leg.

4. The mixed weight finale. The Open is broken up into divisions based on weight, from light (170 lbs) up to heavy (300 lbs and over). At the end of the day, the audience is treated to an "open weight" competition, which cane provide some major surprises. At last year's event, lightweight Trent Sabo (180 lbs) defeated 440-pound Mark Sagato by darting around the giant and forcing him out of the ring from behind. Bulgarian Sumo Champion Petar Stoyanov tossed Sabo from the ring like a flea in the following round, but by then the audience was enthralled by the ongoing David versus Goliath style drama. The kids in particular seem to love watching little guys take on big guys.

5. "Byamba". As in two-time World champion Byambajav Ulambayar, the odds-on favorite to win the entire event. Sumo wrestling in Japan has been dominated as of late by Mongolians like Byamba, and the Open draws a global array of competitors. In addition to the dominating Mongolians, the 50 competing wrestlers will include the intimidating and equally skilled Bulgarian wrestlers, as well as the bold (and sometimes preening) competitors from Germany. Last year, the lovable Hans Borg ran lost his division, but ran away with the hearts of the crowd.

The 8th Annual US Sumo Open
Los Angeles Sports Arena
Saturday, September 6, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.