Back to the Pyramid!
After using smaller venues in 2020-2021 (due to lockdowns), the US Sumo Open returned for the 7th time to the Walter Pyramid, and the fans went wild! Over 3,500 people filled the stadium for 150 dramatic matches, with major upsets and surprises! Foreign teams dominated again, winning all 5 men’s gold medals, as only 3 American men even won any medals at all. One man, though, Mendee from Mongolia, made history, by winning 14 out of 14 matches, for a perfect record!
Just Another Magic Mendee
Everyone knows the late Byamba, a sumo legend who went 110 wins and only 7 losses during his 13 US Sumo Opens (2007 – 2019). From 2009 – 2014, Byamba actually had a winning streak of 56 wins in a row! This attainment might never be beaten, but in spite of that, Byamba’s best single US Sumo Open record was in 2016, when he went 13-0.
Byamba’s countryman and protege, Mendee (“Men-day”), had trained with Byamba, and has now surpassed Byamba in one regard, with a single tournament record of 14-0. This has never been accomplished at the US Sumo Open, and is particularly remarkable, considering the powerful field that Mendee fought against. Under-sized at 320 pounds, Mendee beat numerous, much larger opponents, with weight differentials of 100 pounds or more.
The big question on everyone’s mind: Can Mendee keep this up, next year? Is he the next Byamba? Hard to say after only a single US Sumo Open, but considering his years of training in Mongolia and Japan, and his past World Sumo Champion title, anything’s possible . . .
Openweight Champion – Just a Buck Fifty?
In the Women’s Openweight competition, 8 ladies battled it out, and the winner was the lightest of them all – Poland’s Alexsandra Rozum! She had already won the the Middleweight gold medal, and in the Openweight division, she blasted through 3 Heavyweight women, weighing in at 275 lbs, 396 lbs, and 310 lbs, respectively! So, those 3 opponents weighed nearly 1,000 pounds (981 pounds, actually, but who’s counting), yet a 148-pounder beat them all!
Polish Power: In fact, among the 8 women, half were from Poland. They had a total of 14 matches against non-Polish opponents, and they won 13 of those 14 bouts. So, Poland swept the gold medals in all women’s weight classes!
Foreign Dominance is Back
In 2021, for the first time ever (in 21 years), American men won MOST of the gold medals (3 out of 5), but this year, the gold medals ALL went to foreigners – 3 to Mongolia and 2 to Egypt.
In fact, the men’s foreign medal count included Mongolia (4), Egypt (3), plus on each for Japan, Hungary, Poland, and New Zealand!
The American standouts were Middleweight bronze medalist Jordan Karst, Light Heavyweight bronze medalist Eric Huynh, and Jose Galindo, who won Heavyweight silver and Openweight bronze.
Mongolia leading the medal count is even more incredible, considering only 3 of them competed – 2 Lightweights, plus Mendee in the Heavyweight and Openweight divisions!
Overall, 10 countries were represented, but the majority of competitors were Americans. Among 27 Americans, only 5 had winning records, so we still have a long way to go . . .
Fans, Fans, Fans!
The audience excitement was palpable, as fans shouted support for their favorite wrestlers. Foot-stomping throughout the bleachers amped up the tension before big matches. Most fans stayed for hours, to catch all the action, including the amazing Openweight matches, to cap off the competition.
We look forward to an even grander experience in 2023, with even more teams expected to participate!