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Sumo wrestling information

The competitive contact sport of sumo wrestling originates from Japan where it is still very popular. In sumo, two wrestlers, or rikishi, try to force each other out of a circular ring, or dohyo, or make their opponent touch the ground with another part of their body other than the soles of their feet. Professional sumo is highly ritualistic, with many traditions dating back to the time when it was used in the Shinto religion. Amateur sumo is practiced as a sport in Japanese colleges and high schools and in open amateur tournaments, where the sport is stripped of most of its ceremonial elements. Successful amateur wrestlers can become professional and may enter the ranks at the third division rather than the very bottom, provided they are under 23, and this is a common route of entry for many of Japan's top division wrestlers.

An international federation to encourage worldwide development is currently campaigning to have the sport recognised as an Olympic sport. Amateur clubs are gaining popularity in Europe and the United States, and the sport is popular in Hawaii among the Japanese ethnic community. Wrestlers are not exclusively from the Japanese diaspora however, but come from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds. Many wrestlers enter the sport from backgrounds in judo or freestyle wrestling, and some Eastern European wrestlers have reached professional level in Japan.

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