Andrew Freund started a sumo group in 1997, after volunteering to try sumo during a cultural demonstration. With a background in kendo, tai chi, aikido, and other martial arts, Andrew soon developed a passion for sumo. In the early 90s, Andrew had worked in Japan and is familiar with many aspects of Japanese culture.
While continuing his professional teaching career at colleges in the Los Angeles area, Andrew founded several sumo organizations, including the UCLA Sumo Club, the first and only officially-recognized university sumo club ever, anywhere in the United States.
Even while producing events and coaching, Andrew himself competed in sumo, on the national and international levels. He has won numerous tournament medals, qualifying for and competing for the US National team at World Championship events. Despite his slight stature (150 pounds), Andrew has competed against and defeated many much larger opponents, and Andrew is the current US Sumo National Champion (lightweight division).
As a grassroots movement, Andrew has self-produced the US SUMO OPEN tournaments, since the seminal event was initiated in 2001. This tournament is recognized as one of the world's premiere annual sumo competitions, with National and World Champion athletes competing from over 26 countries (6 continents) competing! It's also the first tournament in the United States to introduce female competitions, every year.
Andrew has brought elite sumo Talent to his events, including 10 former professional sumo wrestlers, with Hawaiian greats Konishiki, Akebono, and Musashimaru each working with Andrew on several occasions. The US Sumo Open is also the first major tournament in the United States to include female competitors. Andrew has also produced over 500 other sumo events for years, all over the United States and in over a dozen countries. These include lectures, demonstrations, corporate events, private parties, large-scale tournaments, and much more.
Andrew has worked for years with Japanese professional sumo, too. He does promotions, interpreting, media coordination, and more for multiple Japanese professional sumo tournaments in the United States. In addition, he served as house announcer for these events, for 50,000 total audience members in stadiums like the Mandalay Bay Arena and the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
On August 4, 2012, Andrew was inducted into the Martial Arts History Museum's Hall of Fame. He is greatly honored and humbled by the recognition from the Martial Arts Museum, and wishes to express his gratitude to all who have supported him along the way. Andrew looks forward to further sharing the traditional Japanese martial art of sumo with a wider audience worldwide.
SUMO EVENTS PRODUCED
US SUMO OPEN (since 2001)
Grand Sumo Las Vegas (announcer & associate producer)
Grand Sumo Tournament Los Angeles (announcer & associate producer)
Arnold Sports Festival sumo performances
California State Games (30,000 people in Qualcomm Stadium)
numerous other stadium events worldwide
NASCAR pre-race sumo events (Texas Motor Speedway)
Menil Collection sumo show (Houston, raised $443,000 for charity)
Jonathan Club (multiple times)
Friars Club of Beverly Hills (multiple times)
Sumo Announcer (over 500 live events and TV shows)
America's Got Talent (performer)
Tonight Show with Jay Leno
The Early Show
Memoirs of a Geisha (sumo consultant, Columbia Picuters, 2005)
Oceans 13 (sumo consultant , Warner Bros., 2007)
47 Ronin (Universal Pictures, 2013)
150+ TV appearances (Discovery, History Channel, Nat Geo, MTV, Spike, and many more)
KTLA Morning Show (numerous times)
Fox Good Day L.A. (numerous times)
ESPN Magazine (interview)
Los Angeles Times (numerous times)
The Japan Times (interview)
other articles (Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Maxim Magazine, L.A. Daily News, more)
60+ TV commercials (worldwide)