Sumo Wrestling Invades Las Vegas for First Time in the Sport’s 1,500-Year History

Friday, Oct. 7 – Sunday, Oct. 9, 2005

Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada

LAS VEGAS, July 21 /PRNewswire/ — The Japan Sumo Association, the supreme governing body of the sport, will bring sumo to Las Vegas for the first time in the sport’s 1,500-year history for the three-day Grand Sumo Championship tournament Oct. 7-9, 2005, at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.

The highest level sumo athletes (Makunouchi Rikishi) will compete in the Grand Sumo Championship. A champion will be determined each day of the tournament with a Grand Champion crowned Sunday after the final match. The last Grand Sumo three-day tournament in the United States took place in June 1985 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Tickets for this exciting weekend of sport and culture are priced at $175, $125 and $75 per session and can be purchased at the Mandalay Bay Box Office and all TicketMaster outlets. To order tickets by phone, call (702) 632-7580 or toll-free 877-632-7400.

Heading the field will be Asashoryu, the current Yokozuna (grand champion) of sumo. While there can be more than one Yokozuna, Asashoryu currently stands alone at the pinnacle of the sport. At only 24 years old, the native Mongolian has conquered Japan with his prowess. He is immensely popular and is poised to hold the traditional belt for years to come.

Bill Hornbuckle, president and chief operating officer for Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, said, “The Grand Sumo Championship is a unique sports and cultural event for Las Vegas. We look forward to hosting the spectacular tournament at the Events Center in October.”

Grand Sumo Las Vegas is being produced by Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, Inc. of Japan, in association with Mandalay Bay and is sponsored in part by Toshiba and Japan Airlines. The producer, Dan Yoshida, who also promoted the 1985 Grand Sumo event in New York, brought the Las Vegas icons Siegfried & Roy to Japan for one year, as well as tours by Cirque de Soleil and other artists.

“After our incredible experience in New York, it was just a matter of finding the perfect situation before we brought sumo back to America,” Yoshida said. “Mandalay Bay has provided us with just that circumstance.”

Event organizers will ensure a truly authentic experience by having a special crew construct the dohyo (sumo ring) that meets all the requirements of the sport, including the proper mixture of clay and sand as well as the correct deployment of the tawara (rice-straw bales). Further, a traditional yakata (the roof over the sumo ring) will be imported from Japan for this tournament.

Sumo transcends sport in Japan as it is interwoven with the culture. Each portion of the bout, including every move and the construction of the dohyo, is governed by rules coded over centuries. Although forms of sumo can be traced back 1,500 years, the traditions and rituals of the Japanese Edo period (1603-1867) are the basis for today’s competitions.

The Japan Sumo Association, the governing body of the sport, was formed in 1925. The association operates and controls all aspects of professional sumo wrestling in Japan from the rules of the dohyo to the training of new sumo wrestlers.

Toshimitsu Kitanoumi, chairman of the Japan Sumo Association, said, “Our Association works to preserve Grand Sumo’s traditional culture valuing the courtesies and rituals cultivated over its long history built up by ceaseless efforts of our predecessors.”

As 2005 marks the 100th anniversary of the city of Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay has delivered many world championship boxing bouts and now brings the Grand Sumo Tournament to help commemorate a truly unique town.

This year’s sumo events will take place Friday, Oct. 7 and Saturday, Oct. 8 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 9 at 2 p.m. at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

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