The Guardian

'It's exhilarating': Japan's female sumo wrestlers take on sexism

Amateur wrestlers hope ban on women in the professional arena will one day be overturned
Eight of the current nine members of the Asahi University women sumo team pose for a group photo by the Dohyo Photograph: Laura Liverani for the Guardian

It isn’t hard to see why Chisaki Okumura is one of Japan’s best female sumo wrestlers. Combining her considerable height and heft with flashes of speed, her practice bouts end with a succession of opponents thrown to the ground or shoved unceremoniously out of the ring.

On a humid, wet afternoon in central Japan, Okumura draws on her reserves of strength for a final, punishing series of drills with a male opponent. By the end, it is hard to tell who is more exhausted.

For more than two hours every weekday afternoon,

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