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Girls, Get Your Sumo On

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Despite the fact that only about 8 of the 50 competitors at Saturday’s 2007 US Sumo Open will be women, LAist is simply giddy about the prospect of watching two girls charge each other like a couple of rhinos. We already feel blessed that our city is the home of some of the country’s best girl on girl roller derby action, so it’s hard not to get excited by the mawashi-clad ladies of sumo taking it up a notch.

But don’t mistake the women's division for some kind of promotional stunt. These ladies are serious athletes, just like the men who have traveled from around the world to compete. It’s easy to forget in a town that flies its Latino flag so proudly that we’re also the gateway to the Pacific Rim. And while most Americans can’t check out Japan’s 1,500 year-old national sport without booking a flight to Tokyo, the Sumo Open has been entertaining Angelenos every year since 2001. The event has grown into the largest sumo event in the world outside of Japan, and tomorrow’s competition will feature champion wrestlers from Japan, Germany, Italy, Mongolia, and all points in between, including the current world sumo champ, Byambajav Ulambayar.

Sumo wrestling has been marred by allegations of bout fixing in Japan, which could hurt supporters' efforts to have it added as an Olympic sport. USA Sumo promotes its event as a tournament for athletes who compete in sumo for the love of the sport, and champion-level prizes usually don't consist of anything more than a bottle of sake. The sumo matches kick off at 10am and run until 4pm. General admission is $25 ($15 for kids 18 and under). All of the action takes place at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

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Photo by Chuck Green.