As in past years, Mongolian athletes dominated the competition, winning gold medals in every weight class they competed in. In fact, the three Mongolians who competed were all undefeated (except against each other)! So, not one non-Mongolian was able to beat a single Mongolian!
In a more intimate setting, fans got a chance to meet with, eat with, and take photos with the sumo wrestlers at the end of the competition. This “Sumo Bash” was truly a new sumo experience for many hard-core fans.<
The Aviation Park Gym in Redondo Beach was packed with enthusiastic sumo fans, many of whom have been attending the Open for years. Athletes from four countries – USA, Mongolia, Tonga, and Tajikistan – competed in four weight classes.
BYAMBA – WORLD CHAMP UNDEFEATED
As usual, “Byamba”, two-time World Sumo Champion and reigning World Games Sumo Champion was impressive, with a record of 9-0, capturing gold medals in the heavyweight and the openweight divisions. He seemed to walk right through all his opponents, barely exerting himself in the process. Byamba has now won US Sumo Open gold for three years in a row!
BILEGEE – ALSO THREE YEARS OF GOLD
Another standout was Mongolian “Bilegee” who also won US Sumo Open gold for the third time. He was undefeated throughout the entire competition in the middleweight and the openweight, until the openweight final match, where he succumbed to his countryman Byamba. In four years at the US Sumo Open, Bilegee has now won 5 medals in three weight classes, certainly an impressive feat for a 204-pound man!
Only two non-Mongolians finished with winning records. American Ernest Freund won lightweight gold with a record of 3-1, at just his second sumo competition ever. Meanwhile, Tongan Siosifa “Joe” I’sama’u maintained a record of 6-4, winning bronze in heavyweight and openweight. Both men stood out among a field of mediocre performances.
THANKS TO THE FANS & SPONSORS
Serious sumo fans have followed us for 9 years from the UCLA gym to Manhattan Beach to Little Tokyo to the Los Angeles Convention Center to the Los Angeles Sports Arena, and now to Redondo Beach. It’s been quite a journey.
This year, we enjoyed the musical performances of Wajima Kiriko Daiko and wonderful Yakult samples to go along with free Japanese lunch boxes for all fans, included in the admission cost. As always, special thanks to sponsors TV JAPAN, Sapporo Beer, and Hakutsuru Sake. Fans once again went crazy over TV JAPAN squeezy sumo dolls, too!
Finally, thanks to Americus Abesamis, a competitor at the US Sumo Open for the third year in a row. Americus contributed to the event production and had his own booth where fans could get autographs from the popular film & TV actor!
MEET THE CHAMPS AT THE SUMO BASH
After the competition, audience members had plenty of chances to meet and greet the wrestlers. There were opportunities to take photos with athletes and to get autographs. Especially popular were handprints and autographs from World Champion Byamba.