Sumo wrestling (相撲)
Asashoryu fight Jan08.JPG
A sumo match (tori-kumi) between yokozuna Asashōryū (left) and komusubi Kotoshōgiku in January 2008.
HardnessFull contact
Country of originJapanJapan
Olympic sportNo, but recognized by the IOC
Sumo (Chinese characters).svg
"Sumo" in kanji
Japanese name

Sumo (相撲, sumō) is a form of competitive full-contact wrestling where a rikishi (wrestler) attempts to force his opponent out of a circular ring (dohyō) or into touching the ground with anything other than the soles of his feet. The characters 相撲 literally mean "striking one another".

The sport originated in Japan, the only country where it is practiced professionally. It is generally considered a gendai budō (a modern Japanese martial art), but this definition is misleading, as the sport has a history spanning many centuries.Many ancient traditions have been preserved in sumo, and even today the sport includes many ritual elements, such as the use of salt purification, from Shinto.

Life as a wrestler is highly regimented, with rules regulated by the Japan Sumo Association. Most sumo wrestlers are required to live in communal sumo training stables, known in Japanese as heya, where all aspects of their daily lives—from meals to their manner of dress—are dictated by strict tradition.

From 2008 to 2017, a number of high-profile controversies and scandals have rocked the sumo world, with an associated effect on its reputation and ticket sales. These have also affected the sport's ability to attract recruits.[1] Despite this setback, sumo's popularity and general attendance has rebounded due to having multiple yokozuna (or grand champions) for the first time in a number of years and other high-profile wrestlers such as Endō and Ichinojō grabbing the public's attention.[2]


In addition to its use as a trial of strength in combat, sumo has also been associated with Shinto ritual, and even certain shrines carry out forms of ritual dance where a human is said to wrestle with a kami (a Shinto divine spirit). It was an important ritual at the imperial court, where representatives of each province were ordered to attend the contest at the court and fight. The contestants were required to pay for their travels themselves. The contest was known as sumai no sechie, or "sumai party".[3]

Sumo wrestler Somagahana Fuchiemon, c. 1850

Over the rest of Japanese recorded history, sumo's popularity has changed according to the whims of its rulers and the need for its use as a training tool in periods of civil strife. The form of wrestling combat changed gradually into one where the main aim in victory was to throw one's opponent. The concept of pushing one's opponent out of a defined area came some time later.

A ring, defined as something other than simply the area given to the wrestlers by spectators, is also believed to have come into being in the 16th century as a result of a tournament organized by the then principal warlord in Japan, Oda Nobunaga. At this point, wrestlers would wear loose loincloths rather than the much stiffer mawashi wrestling belts of today. During the Edo period, wrestlers would wear a fringed decorative apron called a keshō-mawashi during the match, whereas today these are worn only during pretournament rituals. Most of the rest of the current forms within the sport developed in the early Edo period.

Sumo wrestling scene c. 1851

Professional sumo (ōzumō) roots trace back to the Edo period in Japan as a form of sporting entertainment. The original wrestlers were probably samurai, often rōnin, who needed to find an alternative form of income. Current professional sumo tournaments began in the Tomioka Hachiman Shrine in 1684, and then were held in the Ekō-in in the Edo period. Western Japan also had its own sumo venues and tournaments in this period, with the most prominent center being in Osaka. Osaka sumo continued to the end of the Taishō period in 1926, when it merged with Tokyo sumo to form one organization. For a short period after this, four tournaments were held a year, two tournaments in locations in western Japan such as Nagoya, Osaka, and Fukuoka, and two in the Ryōgoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. From 1933 onward, tournaments were held almost exclusively in the Ryōgoku Kokugikan, until the American occupation forces appropriated it and the tournaments moved to Meiji Shrine until the 1950s. Then, an alternate location, the Kuramae Kokugikan near Ryōgoku, was built for sumo. Also in this period, the Sumo Association began expanding to venues in western Japan again, reaching a total of six tournaments a year by 1958, with half of them in Kuramae. In 1984, the Ryōgoku Kokugikan was rebuilt and sumo tournaments in Tokyo have been held there ever since.

Other Languages
العربية: سومو
arpetan: Sumo
asturianu: Sumo
azərbaycanca: Sumo
বাংলা: সুমো
Bân-lâm-gú: Siong-phok
башҡортса: Сумо
беларуская: Сумо
български: Сумо
བོད་ཡིག: སུ་མོ་སྦེ་ག
bosanski: Sumo hrvanje
brezhoneg: Sumo
català: Sumo
čeština: Sumó
dansk: Sumo
Deutsch: Sumō
eesti: Sumo
Ελληνικά: Σούμο
español: Sumo
Esperanto: Sumoo
euskara: Sumo
فارسی: سومو
føroyskt: Sumo-glíming
français: Sumo
Frysk: Sûmo
Gaeilge: Súmó
Gàidhlig: Sumo
galego: Sumo
한국어: 스모
հայերեն: Սումո
हिन्दी: सूमो
hrvatski: Sumo hrvanje
Bahasa Indonesia: Sumo
interlingua: Sumo
Ирон: Сумо
italiano: Sumo
עברית: סומו
Basa Jawa: Sumo
ქართული: სუმო
қазақша: Сумо
Кыргызча: Сумо
latviešu: Sumo
lietuvių: Sumo
magyar: Szumó
मराठी: सुमो
მარგალური: სუმო
Bahasa Melayu: Sumo
монгол: Сүмо
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ဆူမို
Nederlands: Sumo
日本語: 相撲
norsk: Sumo
norsk nynorsk: Sumobryting
Novial: Sumo
occitan: Sumo
Piemontèis: Sumo
polski: Sumo
português: Sumô
română: Sumo
русский: Сумо
Scots: Sumo
sicilianu: Sumo
Simple English: Sumo
slovenčina: Sumo
српски / srpski: Сумо
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Sumo
suomi: Sumo
svenska: Sumo
ไทย: ซูโม่
Türkçe: Sumo Güreşi
українська: Сумо
Tiếng Việt: Sumo
walon: Sumô
吴语: 相扑
粵語: 相撲
中文: 相撲