Could sumo wrestling be the next big thing? For years the ancient art has been an exotic curiosity in the UK, but a small group of enthusiasts kept the faith and they may be on the verge of a breakthrough. Steve Pateman runs the British Sumo Federation from his gym in Derby. Although he placed as high as third in the world in his prime, he modestly says that the new generation have the potential to go further and that they are “a lot harder”.
Sumo is the perfect sport for modern Britain. It’s recession proof as there’s no kit to buy and you can practice anywhere. Even though weight classes mean anyone can take part, there is a special place in the sport for the big men. While the smaller divisions tend to produce more technical contests, there is nothing in the wide world of sports as thrilling as two big units crashing into each other. Body image deters the obese from exercising. If they turn up for sumo practice- the smiles will be genuine and they’ll be greeted like seven footers inquiring about basketball.
Don’t be surprised if Alan Partridge’s Inner City Sumo finally gets the green light
We are constantly told that the X-Factor culture is ruining the country- that kids want instant fame and glory. In sumo, those dreams can come true. The rudimentary skill set means that, with the right attitude, you can scale the heights in the sport very quickly. If you have a desire to succeed and don’t mind getting slapped in the face- representing your country at international tournaments in a matter of months is a realistic aspiration. If you’ve got a bit of rugby or judo in your locker- the sky is the limit.
Last week, the cream of the current crop (and a few newbies who just fancied having a go) gathered at the spiritual home of British sumo, Steve’s Handford Street gym, to battle it out in the Open. There was a feeling that the sport’s time is coming. Don’t be surprised if Alan Partridge’s Inner City Sumo finally gets the green light.
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