PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 March, 2009, 12:00am


Sumo is a Japanese sport. It's a kind of wrestling. But it is very different from western-style wrestling.

Being a sumo wrestler means living a special lifestyle. Sumo wrestlers live in a 'stable', where they eat very big meals to put on weight. They also get up very early in the morning to train. If they go out in public, they have to wear special clothes, so everybody knows they are a sumo wrestler.


Sumo probably started as part of the Japanese religion Shinto. At Japanese shrines - or temples - men used to do a dance in which they wrestled with the gods. It was probably used for training soldiers, too.

The sport of sumo came much later. Sumo of today really started in the Edo period (1603-1898). Edo was the old name for Tokyo.

Life of a wrestler

If you are a sumo wrestler, you have very little freedom. Almost everything in your life is about sumo. Sumo wrestlers eat special food - stews made of beef and rice - so they can put on weight. They have to grow their hair long so they can make it into a bun. This is called a topknot.

Foreign sumo

Sumo is a very Japanese sport. But some foreigners also compete. Today there are 59 sumo wrestlers who are foreigners. They come from places like Hawaii and Samoa. There are also quite a few Mongolians in the Japanese sport.

How to win a sumo match

Sumo games are held in a ring covered in sand. The wrestlers have to try and force their rival outside the ring. If one does this, they win.

The other way to win is to force some part of the rival's body - apart from his feet - to touch the ground.

Because the aim of a sumo match is simple, it usually ends very quickly. The average sumo match might only last several seconds. But sometimes it can last several minutes.

now do this

1 Sumo wrestlers live in ...

a. sumo centres

b. stables

c. pens

2 Sumo probably started ...

a. as an ancient form of fighting

b. as a way for fat people to lose weight

c. as a religious dance

3 Sumo wrestlers eat a lot of ...

a. stew

b. fast food

c. sushi


1. b, 2. c, 3. a