Women in North American Sumo – Who’s Who 2018

The topic of women in sumo has recently garnered notable attention. Much of this conversation started in April of 2018, when Ryozo Tatami, the mayor of Maizuru, collapsed on the dohyo during a sumo event.  Two women rushed to his aid, and they were promptly asked to leave the dohyo while providing emergency medical treatment.  Afterwards, many news outlets discussed whether the traditions of sumo regarding women were problematic and outdated.  More recently, The Guardian published an article about women in sumo, arguing that their absence greatly harms the popularity of the sport.  This sparked notable debate on Reddit.com/r/sumo as well as Twitter, as many readers felt that the article overstated the waning popularity of sumo in Japan (if it is waning at all).  In many of these articles and discussions, authors and commenters alike lamented the absence of female rikishi (sumo wrestlers).

This lamenting is (somewhat) misguided, as female rikishi do indeed exist.

Yes, there is no professional sumo league for women; however, women around the world compete in amateur sumo.

It would be wonderful if a professional sumo league for women existed anywhere, Japan or elsewhere, but I believe it is disingenuous to ignore the athletic and social contributions of these female warriors of the dohyo.  These women deserve the attention and respect of the sumo audience.  Not because they are women, per se, but instead because they are quite good at what they do (as seen in the gifs below).

Because many fans of sumo appear to be generally unaware of women currently competing in amateur sumo, I felt it would be a good article to identify a partial who’s who of women in North American sumo in the year 2018.  I selected nine North American, female rikishi that made a notable impact in the last year.  I must note that this article is only the tip of the iceberg.  There are simply too many women who have competed in North American sumo to list them all.  Nevertheless, I hope that this article is a good start to pique the interest of readers, who can then explore more of women’s sumo.

I plan to write this article every year, which is why I included “2018” at the end of the title.  If you would like to see other articles about North American women’s sumo, please email me at NorthAmericanSumo@gmail.com!

Lastly, I also want to say that I hope 2019 is better for women’s sumo – specifically its presence on the internet.  It is extremely difficult to find any videos of women’s sumo on YouTube or anywhere else.  Also, the US Sumo Open uploads a video that reviews all the men’s divisions; however, it only includes the women’s openweight.  Come on!  How difficult is it to include all the women’s weightclasses too!?


Janna Van Witbeck

  • Finished 3rd in the lightweight division at the US Sumo Open 2018.
  • Won the lightweight division at the US Sumo Nationals 2018.

Jessica Hopper

  • Finished 2nd in the lightweight division at the US Sumo Nationals 2018.

Christina Archetti

  • Finished 3rd in the lightweight division at the US Sumo Nationals 2018.
  • Represented Team USA at the World Sumo Championships 2018.

Morgan Chateau

  • Finished 2nd in the lightweight division at the US Sumo Open 2018.
  • Finished 2nd in the middleweight division at the US Sumo Nationals 2018.
  • Represented Team USA at the World Sumo Championships 2018.

Morgan Chateau World Sumo Championships 2018

Gif: Morgan Chateau at the World Sumo Championships 2018.


Mariah Holmes

  • Finished 2nd in the middleweight division at the US Sumo Open 2018.
  • Won the openweight division at the US Sumo Open 2018.
  • Won the middleweight division at the US Sumo Nationals 2018.
  • Finished 2nd in the openweight division at the US Sumo Nationals 2018.
  • Represented Team USA at the World Sumo Championships 2018.

Sumo World Championships 2018 - Morgan Chateau - Match 2

Gif: Mariah Holmes at the World Sumo Championships 2018.

I think that Mariah Holmes is the winner of North American female rikishi of the year (2018).  She won both a gold and a silver at both the US Sumo Open and the US Sumo Nationals.  It is very difficult to do any better than that, and I look forward to seeing what 2019 brings.  Could she win gold at the World Sumo Championships?


Danna Engelberg

  • Won the heavyweight division at the US Sumo Open 2018.
  • Won the heavyweight division at the US Sumo Nationals 2018.
  • Finished 3rd in the openweight division at the US Sumo Nationals 2018.
  • Represented Team USA at the World Sumo Championships 2018.

Danna Engelberg vs Mariah Holmes US Sumo Open 2018

Gif: Danna Engelberg vs. Mariah Holmes at the US Sumo Open 2018.

Danna Engelberg is the only person who could contend with Mariah Holmes for North American female rikishi of the year (2018).  As we all know, the heavyweights are almost always the face of sumo, and Danna won gold in the heavyweight division at both the US Sumo Open and the US Sumo Nationals.  I think Mariah edges her out, but Danna could take the title in 2019!


Natalie Burns

  • Finished 2nd in the heavyweight division at the US Sumo Open 2018.
  • Finished 2nd in the heavyweight division at the US Sumo Nationals 2018.

Kaitlyn Mascher

  • Finished 3rd in the heavyweight division at the US Sumo Nationals 2018.

Helen Delpopolo

  • Won the openweight division at the US Sumo Nationals 2018.

Bonus: Olga Davydko

Olga Davydko World Sumo Championships 2018 Final

Gif: Olga Davydko at the World Sumo Championships 2018.

Olga Davydko represented Team Russia at the World Sumo Championships 2018, where she won gold in the heavyweight division.  While she has no relation to North American Sumo, I still wanted to include her dominance in the dohyo.  The gif above was the final match of the heavyweight championship, and, as you can tell, she ran away with the division.

If I wanted to start a professional sumo league, I would pay big $$$ for her to be my first superstar.  Not only would she be the most dominant, but I think this investment could pay off.  The YouTube video of the women’s heavyweight final at the World Sumo Championships 2018 already has over 750,000 views!

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