Female sumo wrestlers gather for annual meet

Kyodo

Fifty-eight women got together to fight in a rare female-only sumo meet Sunday in Fukushima, Hokkaido, an event to commemorate two renowned sumo champions who hail from the southern Hokkaido town.

In the championship match, Etsuko Abe, 46, defeated an American woman who goes by the ring name Odori-yama (Dance Mountain). Abe, whose own ring name is Etsuno-umi, was the apparent underdog, at half of her American challenger’s weight.

“(Odori-yama) is quite heavy, but I ran into her all with my strength,” Abe said.

“I’m quite happy to win the championship for the first time in a while,” she said.

Abe, from Tokyo’s Sumida Ward, won the championship at the same annual event nine years ago.

Fukushima is the hometown of yokozuna sumo champions Chiyonoyama and Chiyonofuji.

The annual event, in its 21st year, is held each Mother’s Day.

In professional sum, women are actually barred from the ring.