Normally, you wouldn’t expect a 16-year-old to be so passionate as to return to a mat every morning, sweating out all her energy to become a sumo wrestler. Yet, a high school student, Ariuntuya, from the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar, is training to become one.

Why? Because when her coach became her inspiration, she couldn’t resist the mat. Ariuntuya said: “I decided to become a sumo wrestler because this year I fought with her for the first time, and it was really cool.”

Ariuntuya will soon compete in her first sumo wrestling tournament. She trains for about two hours every day. Sumo wrestling requires a strict diet, training regime and wrestlers need to maintain a constant fighting weight to be able to participate. The weight categories are — under 65kg to over 80kg.

Ariuntuya is aiming for the low weight category.

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“I don’t want to be put in the plus-sized category, as they’re much stronger,” she said. “So I need to lose weight to get in the lower weight categories — it’s easier to compete there.”

Sumo wrestling is one of the oldest sports in Japan. But Mongolian sumo wrestlers have successfully marked their position among the highest rank of the sumo hierarchy, the Yokozuna.

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According to Sumo coach Tserenkhand, initially, it was hard to persuade women to get into the sport because the perception around Japanese sumo wrestling had always been misunderstood, but the mindset is changing.

“Sumo wrestling connects to our traditional wrestling styles because we have all sorts of techniques in our wrestling. Moreover, we have it in our blood, so most Mongolian women can really persevere. They have the drive to succeed,” she told CNA.

While the data is unclear as to how many female sumo wrestlers exist in Mongolia, but according to Tserenkhand, the number is rising and more women from all sectors of Mongolian society are showing interests to learn the sport.

The good news? These women’s achievement has propelled all efforts to improve sports facilities for women. Cheers to that!

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Meet the wrestlers of Dangal & Aamir Khan: Sanya Malhotra, Fatima Sana Sheikh

Feature Image Credit: Channel NewsAsia

Read More Stories By Ria Das

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