Yesterday was great day my friends...a great day.
Kostas, Jake, and I went to go see some amatuer Sumo wrestling at the LA Sports Arena. I walked in with the intent of having a good time and I walked out with stories to tell for years to come.
I have no idea where to start! We arrived at venue when the doors opened and we got GREAT seats. The first portion of the program was the qualifying rounds for the three weight classes competing that day; lightweight (weight up to 187 lbs), middleweight(weight up to 253lbs), and heavyweight (weight over 253 lbs). In case you dont know the rules of sumo, its pretty simple.
The winner of a sumo bout is either:
The first wrestler to force his opponent to step out of the ring or the first wrestler to force his opponent to touch the ground with any part of his body other than the bottom of his feet.
There must have been about 30 people in our section and about 70 people total in the arena when the qualifiers started - so when we screamed or heckled...it was heard by everyone. The lightweights were up first and we all decided to cheer on Art. Lets take a gander at Art's profile picture in the program:
What cracked me up the most was that he would have to take his glasses off before getting into the ring. Unfortunately, he didn't qualify but we will get back to him during the OPEN WEIGHT competition. And if you think that sounds like fun, you are getting ahead in the story!
After we got warmed up with the lighweights, we moved onto the middleweights. The middleweights brought us more bouts and well...here we go. Lets start with James.
This is James:
James is 55 years young and quite the sumo wrestler. He was the oldest competitor and a nice guy I must say. Just so you all know, he is also "The Rope Master".
Guy #2 to speak of is Mark. Oh Mark. When we first arrived we saw this guy warming up in the ring. Now...most of the non-heavyweight wrestlers wore biker shorts or something underneath their mawashi (the official name of the diaper that Jacob found out from a security guard and kept correcting me because he got sick of his mother embarassing him). But not Mark! Oh no..Mark went against the grain and let it all hang out. On top of that he had this way of walking around that was really funny. Here is a quick picture of Mark and his greatness. Mark is the guy in the middle with the pony tail. The way he is standing is the way he walks.
After a few qualifying bouts we get to the heavyweights! I have to say that I was pretty impressed as to how many Americans there are wrestling. Another thing I noticed was this spiffy move that I named "The Wiley Coyote" where they would be pushing on one another like below and then it would seem like they would take a step back to get their breath and then they would charge - one would get out of the way and then the other guy would get out of bounds and lose. I dont know about you, but that made me laugh everytime because I thought, "Why didnt the guy know he was going to do that?!?!"
So after the Final rounds, the wrestlers were hanging around waiting for the Open Weight competition to start. This allowed some fans to get up close and meet some of them. Including me...
After the Kodak moment, the Open Weight competition was about to begin and we snagged some seats about 4 rows from the stage. That gave us a great opportunity to watch the action up front. The Open Weight competition is very different from the regular weight competitions because anyone in any weight can compete against one another. So yes, someone from the lightweight category can be drawn to compete against a heavyweight. And yes, it did happen and yes...it was quite hilarious - even Jake got a little mad.
Ah yes - sitting really close you get all the action. The slapping! The grunting! Seeing too much of the wrestler's inside thighs...(shudder)
If we had to endure it in person, you all have to suck it up and see it too! I took that picture specifically for this blog. You are welcome! :)
Another thing that we noticed was that these guys all seemed to be friends. This was evident in the Open Weight competition between Siosifa (heavyweight) and Art (lightweight). And yes, that is my laughing and screaming on the tape.
The best moment of the day has to go to Mark - remember him? Yes...well this video captures the essence of the day for him I believe. As Kostas said, "He seems like he's the guy no one likes."
Truly one of my favorite moments when he ran away. If I wasnt recording I probably would have fallen on the ground from all the laughing.
All in all - a great freaking day people! I highly recommend going to one of these things if you get the chance.