PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 12:00am

BIG GUNS ARE COMING: Hong Kong national team members Choi Mo-fung and Kwong Ying-cheong stage a demonstration bout at a press conference announcing that Hong Kong will host four major sumo wrestling events at the Hong Kong International Trade and Exhibition Centre in Kowloon Bay over the next two years.

Sumo wrestlers from about 50 countries are due to compete at the 13th Sumo World Championships next year in the SAR. In addition, female contestants from around the globe will have a chance to shine when they compete in the second Shinsumo World Championships, which will be held here in 2004. Hong Kong has also won the rights to stage the Eighth Sumo Asian Championships and the Third Shinsumo Asian Championships next year, which will see as many as 15 countries taking part.

Contestants for the World Championships could weigh anything from as little as 50kg up to as much as 200kg plus, although there is no weight limit for the heavyweights.

Japanese consul-general Jun Yokota said he hopes the event would boost the local tourist industry, allowing spectators the chance to see one of the fastest growing sports in the world. 'It is a sport that could see the small guy beat the big guy. There are no certainties. The game could end instantly. That's the beauty of it,' said Yokota.

Chairman of the organising committee, Samson Mak Yiu-cheung, said organisers have asked the Asian Sumo Federation for permission to extend the event - normally held over one day - to two days to give fans more time to enjoy the spectacle. 'There will be both team and individual competitions for both the World Championships and the Asian Championships. Team competitions are contested over the best of three bouts. In the individual competitions, there will be four weight categories, namely lightweight, middleweight, heavyweight and open,' he said.

Hong Kong have taken part in previous World and Asian Championships, winning one gold medal at the latter event last year when Chan Hoi-chi became champion in the shinsumo (women's) lightweight category in Bangkok. Also last year, Wong Chiu-wa won a silver medal in the lightweight category at the Asian Sumo Championships. The SAR's first success at the Asian Championships was when Pang Kui-chiu won bronze in the sumo lightweight category in 1999.

A 15-member Hong Kong team leaves today for Osaka to compete in the Asian Championships and Junior World Championships.