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One of Japan’s most ancient sports, sumo is both steeped in tradition and considered to be one of the most demanding in the world. Professional sumo wrestlers, or rikishi, must not only commit to a strict regime of physical training and the daily consumption of gargantuan meals in order to maintain their enormous mass, but also obey rules that cover everything from their hairstyles and the clothing they may wear in public to the use of vehicular transportation.

Although sumo’s popularity in Japan is on the wane, the sport is becoming increasingly popular in Western countries, particularly in the United States where groups such as USA Sumo are growing ever larger and receiving more and more media attention with each year that passes. And we’d be willing to bet that after seeing the following video taken at the US Sumo Open 2013 event, even the most sceptical of Western sports fans will start taking sumo a little more seriously.

Compared to Western wrestling, sumo matches are often much shorter, with participants losing if they are either pushed from the ring or any part of their body other than the soles of their feet touches the floor during the bout. For this reason, the opening moments of matches are genuinely intense, with explosions of muscle and raw energy as wrestlers’ bodies collide so large that it can at times be difficult not to wince.

Although the average Japanese sumo fan is now believed to be well into their 50s, the sport is becoming popular with people of all ages in the Western world. At the 13th US Sumo Open, which took place in LA’s Little Tokyo just last Sunday, spectators were treated to a match of truly epic proportions as Mongolian Byambajav Ulambayar lifted his opponent, 420-lb (190kg) Kelly Gneiting, several feet up into the air before slamming him to the ground in a display of power few will have ever before seen. Suffice it to say, the crowd went nuts.

Here’s an official video from USA Sumo.

And two more videos capturing the superb tsuriotoshi slam, taken by spectators.

Japan, you may have created sumo, but the rest of the world is most definitely coming to get you. Let’s hope that the sport one day makes it into the Olympic Games and we can see bouts like this, and the following featuring the great but now sadly retired Asashouryu, on live TV.

Videos/images via YouTube: ooichotiptoptoelol, Jennifer Gonzalez

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