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Japanese form of wrestling.A contestant loses if he is forced out of the ring (a 15-ft circle) or if any part of his body except the soles of his feet touches the ground. In sumo, a wrestler's weight, size, and strength are of the greatest importance, though speed and suddenness of attack are also useful. The wrestlers, who are fed a special protein diet and may weigh over 300 lbs (136 kg), wear only loincloths and grip each other by the belt. Sumo wrestling is an ancient sport with a complex system of ranking; at the top of the hierarchy is the yokozuna (grand champion). Lengthy rituals and elaborate posturings accompany the bouts, which are extremely brief, often lasting only a few seconds.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on sumo, visit Britannica.com.