Long before Stone Cold and The Rock were jumping off the top ropes - wrestlers of a very different kind were waging war in a very different ring.
Sumo Wrestlers have been pushing each other around since pre-historic times - when sumo matches were held as rituals to pray for a good harvest. Since then, there have been many classic fights between some very big and noble warriors. 2500 years ago, two Japanese Gods are said to have wrestled Sumo style for control of Japan. And the winner? The God named Takemikazuchi - who not only became Sumo champion, but he also won the island of Japan for his people. Since then, Sumo fights have had much smaller stakes.
Today there are only 70 Sumo wrestlers who are able to make a living in the sport. In ancient times, the boundaries of a Sumo ring would be formed by a circle of people watching the match. Today Sumo fights are held in a ring about 10 feet across. The object of the match is to force your opponent out of the ring. There's no eye gauging, hair pulling, or punching - but slapping, tripping, and various body throws are all part of the game.
Sumo wrestling is a sport of long tradition in Japan. It's as much a lifestyle as a sport. Wrestlers are members of a team that live and train together year round. And just as the Undertaker can always be seen with his trademark black trench coat and tattoos - sumo wrestlers are always seen wearing their distinct clothing as well - a thick silk belt that wraps around the waist and between the legs. And as you might guess - size is definitely an advantage in Sumo - so if you want to step in the ring, better start bulking up.
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