Sumo Wrestling Club Introduces New Sport to Berkeley High
Weeks ago, sumo wrestling clubs were nonexistent in the Bay Area. However, the Berkeley High Sumo Wrestling Club, the brain child of Berkeley International High School (BIHS) juniors Paisley Sato, Nathaniel Solley, and Sarita Schreiber, is boldly stepping forward. Although it is still developing, the club is showing large — some may even say sumo — audacity as the pioneer of the Bay Area sumo wrestling club movement. The team began as a school research project, but quickly turned into something much greater. The two students began looking into the sport of sumo wrestling for a class paper, the research grew into fascination.
“While doing the research for our project I noticed that there was an incredible lack of any sumo wrestling culture and sport anywhere in the Bay Area; I knew something had to be done about this, and the idea for a club began,” says co–founder Sato. While investigating the culture for their paper, they found many examples of sexism. Traditionally, women are not allowed to participate in the sport and are even banned from entering the ring. Sato commented in true Berkeley fashion: “I thought this practice was totally unjustifiable. To end this unfair practice there was a decision to form a sumo club that would be all inclusive, something that empowered woman and celebrated diversity.”
It is exactly this progressive agenda which has many excited. Though it took time to formulate a club from a research paper, the group is already creating an exciting and liberal curriculum that is gaining support in the BHS community.
Through a blend of both learning about the sumo lifestyle and practicing the sport itself, the club hopes to empower its members with foreign culture. The first aspect, learning the customs and practice of the sumo way of life, will be stressed to gain a better understanding of the sumo. The customs will be taught, explained Schreiber, “through a mix of media, such as YouTube clips and professional videos of sumo wrestlers, lecture, and even interactive activities like trying to eat like a wrestler does for a day.”
Through investigations into the world of the sumo wrestlers, the club hopes to explore the deeper complexities of the sport beyond two fat guys fighting in adult diapers.
“The meeting I went to was very enlightening; I had no idea how hard these people work to get to the top of their sport,” said Ezzie DeGiovanni, a member of the club. In addition to examining traditions, the club also plans to participate in their own version of the sumo sport. Although not enacted yet, the group is planning to host wrestling matches on the green during lunch in the near future. The matches will consist of two contestants, both with pillows under their shirts to mimic the intentional obesity of the athletes, as well as for protective measures, attempting to push one another out a specified area, the ring. Activities like these have many members excited, and even more creative ideas are currently being designed for the upcoming meetings.
Practicing and learning sumo customs are the main objectives of the club, but there is room for flexibility and new ideas.
“As a new club nothing is permanent; we can really do anything we can think of,” said Schreiber. “For example, at some point, probably once we’re more established, we hope to hold a sumo wrestling tournament to raise money in awareness of obesity and other health–related illnesses that sumos face to spread cultural awareness.”
The Sumo Wrestling Club will be held in C224 the first Tuesday of every month and is excited to welcome new members’ participation.