Grand Sumo Championship Las Vegas
found in the casinos or at the buffet tables almost any hour of the day and night. Some were also spotted at the Bellagio, Mirage, Luxor, New York New York and Stratosphere hotels and casinos. The rikishi were far more accessible to the fans than they usually are back in Japan, and they appeared to be enjoying themselves in the casual atmosphere.
Thursday October 6 – Mandalay Bay Event Center and Press Room
After finishing the yokozuna dohyo-iri in front of six TV cameras and over 100 media representatives, Asashoryu talked about his new son who was just born today at 9:27 AM, Japan time. The time matches the yokozuna’s own birthday numbers – 9/27 “I always wanted a boy. I will be raising him to be a sumotori for sure.” Asashoryu said, looking at a photo of his newborn. “I am losing at gambling, but now, for sure, I will win at sumo.”
Tournament Day 1 Friday October 7 – Mandalay Bay Event Center
The Nihon Sumo Kyokai’s 13th foreign sumo tour opened at the Mandalay Bay Event Center at 8PM. The tournament started
Often called the fight capital of the world, Las Vegas has hosted many prominent and memorable boxing and martial arts matches over the years. It is entirely fitting, then, that the Nihon Sumo Kyokai sought to bring the national sport of Japan, with 1,500 years of history, to Las Vegas to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the city.
The largest foreign tour ever arranged by the Kyokai, with 38 makuuchi rikishi. along with 104 members of the association – tsukebito, gyoji, yobidashi, oyakata and other facilitators, arrived at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on October 4. They immediately proceeded to augment previous promotions and publicize the three-day tournament to be held at Mandalay Bay’s Event Center starting on October 7.
Their efforts clearly paid off, resulting in more U.S. media coverage on sumo than ever witnessed before – features on American TV network morning
shows and evening newscasts; a guest turn on a popular late night TV program, “The Tonight Show”; and articles in major newspapers, e.g., the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and local publications.
The event’s chief organizers, Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, were fully aware of the need to instill excitement and flair – expected of a world entertainment center – to a sport steeped in tradition and customs, while maintaining sumo’s authenticity. Event producer, Dan Yoshida, who also promoted the 1985 New York Grand Sumo tour, was quoted as saying: “I told them, ‘I want you to entertain the people.’ I want speed.”
Those sumo fans expecting to see true honbasho-style bouts were somewhat disappointed, but the opportunities to get close and personal with rikishi were plentiful as the sekitori signed autographs and took pictures with almost anyone who asked. The rikishi could be