Sumo wrestling is an over 2,000-year old, traditionally male, Japanese sport…until now. A Mexican-American woman from Sacramento has defied that tradition and made sumo wrestling her sport, too, joining the ranks of a small but growing number of female enthusiasts for the sport.
“There’s not a lot of small Mexicans in Sumo,” Sonya Del Gallego told local NBC News affiliate KCRA in Sacramento. “I’m under five feet tall.”
She said the added perks of being a sumo wrestler are that she has zero dietary restrictions. “Yeah. I get to eat whatever I want. I’m a wrestler.” And she also sports the traditional mawashi, which resembles a large diaper, that is still worn by wrestlers today. Del Gallego says the garb shows that “we are one-on-one, no weapons,” she told KCRA.
Considering that she has to exert a tremendous amount of force in a small place, the crux of her training is focused on building strength in her legs.
Del Gallego is not the first or the only female to enter the male-dominated sport. Britain’s first sumo wrestler is 48-year-old Sharran Alexander, who is six feet tall. She eats approximately 5,000 calories a day.
India saw its first female sumo wrestler, Hetal Davi, a few years ago and females have also arrived on the scene in Japan as well. They reportedly don leotards over the mawashi.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz