Olympics-Boxing-Storied stadium lends sumo flavour to Tokyo’s Olympic boxing

TOKYO (Reuters) – Sumo wrestling isn’t a part of the Tokyo Video games, however its storied stadium is lending Olympic boxing slightly of the flavour of Japan’s 1,500-year-old nationwide sport.

FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Boxing – Males’s Gentle Heavyweight – Closing – Kokugikan Enviornment – Tokyo, Japan – August 4, 2021 – Arlen Lopez Cardona of Cuba and Benjamin Whittaker of Britain react after their battle. REUTERS/Carl Recine

Boxing bouts are going down on the legendary Kokugikan Enviornment, a 7,300 seat stadium described by Olympic organisers because the “religious residence” of Sumo.

Sumo sees two large, almost bare wrestlers grapple on a raised ring floored with clay and edged with hay bales. The winner is often the wrestler who topples or knocks his opponent out of the ring.

Spectators close to ringside sit on “zabuton” cushions that they often fling into the ring in tribute to an exciting transfer or a dramatic comeback.

With the Olympics going down below strict coronavirus measures and with out spectators, the day by day boxing bouts lack the electrifying ambiance of sumo tournaments – the referees aren’t elaborately dressed and nobody throws salt into the air as a purifying ritual.

Sumo doesn’t have weight courses, though the largest wrestlers can weigh 150 kg or extra. And in contrast to boxing, sumo doesn’t permit ladies to enter the ring – custom says their presence would defile the sacred house.

Like boxing, the Japanese sport has been troubled by scandal. In 2011 sumo was rocked by allegations of match-fixing that some referred to as the “darkest chapter” in its historical past.

Nonetheless, Tokyo organisers have clearly taken pains to infuse slightly of sumo’s pageantry into the Olympic boxing.

Each the morning and night boxing classes began with conventional drumming – much like the drumming that dramatically caps the top of the day’s match.

Officers additionally used conventional wood clapping blocks, usually used to punctuate the doorway of high wrestlers, to warn rounds had been coming to an finish, though the same old bell was nonetheless used to sign the official finish of the spherical.

For boxers, although, their singular focus was on Olympic gold, and never the stadium.

“I’m not likely conversant in sumo wrestling,” mentioned American featherweight Duke Ragan after he beat Ghana’s Samuel Takyi on Tuesday to advance to the boys’s finals.

“I’m simply combating within the Olympics.”

Reporting by David Dolan; Modifying by Toby Davis

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