With a background in kendo, tai chi, aikido, and other martial arts, Andrew Freund started a sumo group in 1997. He had worked in Japan in the early 90s, and is familiar with many aspects of Japanese culture. While continuing his teaching career at Los Angeles-area colleges, Andrew founded several sumo organizations, including the UCLA Sumo Club, the first and only officially-recognized university sumo club ever, in the United States.
As a grassroots movement, Andrew has self-produced all US SUMO OPEN tournaments, since the seminal event was initiated in 2001. This event is one of the world’s premiere annual sumo competitions, with National and World Champions competing from over 26 countries (6 continents)! The US Sumo Open is also the first major tournament in the United States to include female competitors. The 2014 US SUMO OPEN was the largest sumo competition in North American history, with 57 athletes competing in front of thousands of fans. This event was also broadcast nationwide, as a two-hour TV show on Universal Sports Network. A documentary on the 2015 US Sumo Open was broadcast on AT&T U-verse.
Andrew has also long been a commentator and voice of Japanese Professional Sumo (Grand Sumo), including serving as live house announcer for Grand Sumo tournaments in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and more, for over 50,000 American fans. He is also color commentator for global TV broadcasts of Grand Sumo via Fight Sports.
Andrew has created, choreographed, produced, and announced over 700 sumo tournaments and exhibitions worldwide for two decades. The 2013 nationwide “Sumo+Sushi” tour highlighted the skills of multiple World Sumo Champions, with sold-out shows in every city, across the United States. The 104 live shows attracted 30,000+ American fans! Further, his years of collaboration with Japanese professional sumo include promotions, interpreting, media coordination, and announcing for these events.
In addition to Grand Sumo, Andrew has brought elite sumo Talent to hundreds of self-produced events, including 15 elite professional sumo wrestlers, with Hawaiian greats Konishiki, Akebono, and Musashimaru each working with Andrew on several occasions. He has introduced these legends and sumo culture to wide audiences of tens of thousands. He has also coordinated sumo performances on several hundred TV shows, films, and commercials, including consulting on Memoirs of a Geisha, Oceans 13, 47 Ronin, and many more.
On August 4, 2012, Andrew was inducted into the Martial Arts History Museum’s Hall of Fame. Greatly honored and humbled by such recognition, he wishes to express his gratitude to all who have supported him along the way. He looks forward to further sharing the traditional Japanese martial art of sumo with a wider audience worldwide.
Even while producing events and coaching, Andrew himself competes in sumo, on the national and international levels. He has won numerous tournament medals, qualifying for and competing for the US National team at multiple World Games and World Championship events. Despite his slight stature (150 pounds), Andrew has competed against and defeated many much larger opponents. He has gotten 1st place and 2nd place multiple times in the US National Championships for years, and was the 2013 US National Sumo Champion.
SUMO EVENTS PRODUCED
- US SUMO OPEN (since 2001) – founder, director, producer, house announcer
- All-Star Sumo – director & announcer
- Sumo+Sushi Show (104 shows, 13 cities) – director & announcer
- Grand Sumo Las Vegas – announcer & associate producer
- Grand Sumo Tournament Los Angeles – announcer & associate producer
over 700 sumo exhibitions, worldwide
- Fight Sports “Grand Sumo” (global TV series) – color commentator (55 episodes)
- ESPN SportsNation
- Universal Sports Network – announcer, director, and script-writer for two-hour sumo broadcast
- FoxSports.com, USAToday.com, America’s Got Talent – performer
- Memoirs of a Geisha (Columbia Pictures, 2005) – sumo consultant
- Oceans 13 (Warner Brothers, 2007) – sumo consultant
- Discovery, History Channel, Nat Geo, MTV, Spike, KTLA Morning Show, Fox Good Day L.A., 200+ TV appearances
- The Japan Times (interview)
Over 60 newspaper and magazine feature interviews
- Martial Arts History Museum – Hall of Fame
- City of Los Angeles – Certificate of Recognition
- California Legislature – Certificate of Recognition
- County of Los Angeles – Commendation (3 times)