Sumo in Africa? Egyptian stars make it possible

Eslam Omar , Thursday 20 Aug 2015

Two Egyptians just won gold at US Sumo Open, six Egyptian are competing in Japan World Championships next week while Egypt is bidding to host the first Sumo World Championships in the Middle East

Ramy Elgazar
Snapshot from US Sumo video shows Egypt's Ramy Elgazar (R) in action during 2015 US Sumo open (Photo: US Sumo Youtube)

Most Egyptians are unfamiliar with sumo wrestling, the ancient yet still-popular Japanese sport where wrestlers try to force each other out of the ring or onto the ground.

The sport may draw laughs from some due to the curious outfit and because it recalls comedic scenes from a few Egyptian movies, but despite general unawareness regarding the sport, Pharaohs are currently competing in global sumo championships and taking home the gold.

Last week, Egyptian Ramy Elgazar claimed the 15th annual US Sumo Open title, striking the eight-time defending heavyweight gold medalist Byambajar ‘Byamba’ Ulambayar. Believe it or not, it's the second gold medal for Elgazar in the middleweight division of the US Open.

لقطات من ماتشات الوزن الثقيل والمفتوح وماتش ذهبية الثقيل للبطل رامي الجزار وفضية المفتوح

Posted by ‎Egyptian sumo السومو المصري‎ on Thursday, August 13, 2015

"I will stay in New Jersey for the rest of the year to participate in some events and championships here. I hope I can get titles from all over the world to dedicate to my country," the El-Mahallah-born wrestler stated on his Facebook page Tuesday.

Ramy trophies
A Photo of Ramy Ekgazar trophies published on the Sumo champion Facebook page

Elgazar is expected to miss the Japan World Championships this month but the good news is that he is not the only successful Egyptian in this unique sport. His fellow Egyptian, Ramy Belal also named champion of the middleweights snatching a gold medal in defeating Mongolia’s Bayarnmunkh Bavuudorj.

Six Egyptian sumo wrestlers are heading to Japan Friday for a one-week training camp ahead of the 20th Sumo World Championships and the 13th Junior Sumo World Championships, taking place in Osaka between 29 and 31 August.

"We are targeting at least two gold medals from Japan. Our wrestlers are capable of accomplishing such a success," the Egyptian Judo, Aikido, and Sumo Association manager, Mounir Wahid Farid, told Ahram Online. Farid will be leading the Egyptian delegation to Japan.

Wahid Farid
The Egyptian Judo, Aikido and Sumo Association manager, General Wahid Farid at his office (Photo: Eslam Omar)

Led by Coach Ahmed Khalifa, three experienced rikishi will compete in the seniors' ring; 2014 third-placed Hossam Fathi [+115 Kg], 2012 third-placed El-Sayed Gabr [95] and Ramy Belal [+115].

Another three are competing in the juniors' tournament: 2014 third-placed Ibrahim Abdel-Latif [+115] and two new faces in the world's championships: Abdul-Rahman Osman [95] and Fathi Ismael [95].

Egypt bid to become first African country to host sumo championship

The widespread success mentioned above qualifies Egypt to request the International Sumo Federation (ISF) to allow the North African Arab country to host the 2018 championships for the first time ever in the region.

"Most world championships take place in Japan, China, and Mongolia, with a few organized in Europe. In the next general assembly, scheduled for Thursday 27, Egypt will announce its bid to host the 2018 Sumo Championships," Farid revealed exclusively to Ahram Online.

"Egypt is capable of making history by organizing this championship, which will make the sport more popular across the country. We are certain our bid will be accepted because the ISF knows the Egyptian players’ and organizers’ abilities well," Farid concluded.

Ramy Belal
Egypt's Ramy Belal (R) in action during 2015 US Sumo open (Photo: Courtesy of Ramy Belal Facebook account)

Still, sumo matches are very rare in Egyptian clubs, but the country's few stars are reason enough to encourage the sport, especially if they can win Japan's gold next week.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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