Men in North American Sumo – Who’s Who 2018

Last week, I created a who’s who list of women in North American sumo for the year of 2018.  It is only natural, therefore, to also create a who’s who list of men in North American sumo for the year of 2018.  This list only contains competitors born in North America and also compete in North America – sorry Musashikuni and Wakaichirō!

The popularity of sumo has been steadily growing in North America.  The US Sumo Open has a multiplying audience as well as a more diverse body of entrants each year.  The Open has already announced eight participants for 2019, and five different countries are represented.  Likewise, the US Sumo Nationals have more spectators each year alongside a growing pool of competitors.  This growth can even be seen in the smaller events, such as the Georgia Sumo Open that saw a record number of senshu (amateur sumo wrestlers) this year.  It looks like that 2019 may be a record year for North American sumo!

This post provides a look back at the movers and shakers of North American sumo in the year 2018.  I selected nine senshu that had excellent performances throughout the year, along with two bonus senshu that must be mentioned.  For most of these competitors, I also include a gif of a notable performance.  Each of them had very exciting displays throughout the year, so it was extremely hard to pick just one!

But who was the North American Senshu of the Year?  Without a doubt, it must be Roy Sims.  He was the first North American to win the heavyweight division at the US Sumo Open, defeating the legendary Byamba to do so.  He also won the heavyweight division at the US Sumo Nationals, solidifying his claim as the Senshu of the year.  While other competitors had outstanding performances, Roy had an amazing year in the divison that is the face of sumo – the heavyweights.

Lastly, I must acknowledge that John Gunning recently corrected me on my sumo language.  I had been calling all sumo competitors “rikishi”; however, this term is only used for professional sumo wrestlers.  Instead, the proper term for amateur sumo competitors is “senshu”.  Thanks John for notifying me of this correction, and I will start to use those terms properly in the future.  If anyone has any other corrections, or any other comments, please email me at NorthAmericanSumo@Gmail.com.


Trent Sabo

Trent Sabo vs Oscar Vasquez - US Sumo Open 2018

Gif: Trent Sabo vs Oscar Vasquez at the US Sumo Open 2018.

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

Justin Kizzart

Justin Kizzart vs Trent Sabo - US Sumo Nationals 2018

Gif: Justin Kizzart vs. Trent Sabo at the US Sumo Nationals 2018.

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

Al Zander

Georgia Sumo Open 2018 - Lightweight Gif 1 - Compressed

Gif: Al Zander vs. Eric Griffin at the Georgia Sumo Open 2018.

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

Edward Suczewski

Sumo World Championships 2018 - Edward Suczewski - Match 2

Gif: Edward Suczewski vs. Brazilian senshu at the World Sumo Championships 2018.

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

Kena Heffernan

Sumo World Championships 2018 - Kena Heffernan - Match 1

Gif: Kena Heffernan vs. Georgian senshu at the World Sumo Championships 2018.

  • Finished 2nd in 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.

Greg Van Deek

Unfortunately, I could not find any footage of Greg Van Deek from the past year.

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

Roy Sims

Roy Sims vs Byamba - US Sumo Open 2018

Gif: Roy Sims vs. Byamba at the US Sumo Open 2018.

  • Won the heavyweight division at the US Sumo Open 2018.
  • Won the heavyweight division at the US Sumo Nationals 2018.

Robert Fuimaono

Georgia Sumo Open 2018 - Heavyweight Gif 2 - Compressed

Gif: Robert Fuimaono vs. Darius Campbell at the Georgia Sumo Open 2018.

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

Shawn Buller

Shawn Buller - Us Sumo Open 2018

Gif: Shawn Buller vs. Joshua Tuitupou at the US Sumo Open 2018.

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

Bonus #1: Cornelius Booker

Texas Sumo Classic 2018 - Cornelius and John - Resize by 66 - Optimized

Gif: Cornelius Booker vs. John Horst at the Texas Sumo Classic 2018.

I had to include Cornelius Booker in this who’s who list because he appeared everywhere this year!  He was at the US Sumo Open, the US Sumo Nationals, the Georgia Sumo Open, the Texas Sumo Classic. . .and I am sure that I am forgetting a few!  He may be putting more work into sumo than anyone else, and I see a bright future ahead of him for that reason.  He may even be the breakout star of 2019 – only time will tell!


Bonus #2: Ulambayar Byambajav

Byamba vs Yama - Sumo and Sushi 2018

Gif: Byamaba vs Yama (Yamaotoyama Ryūta)  at a Sumo+Sushi event.

Although he is not North American, no list of North American sumo could be complete without Byamba.  He finished 2nd in the heavyweight division at the US Sumo Open 2018; he continues to train students in California; and he tours around the country performing sumo exhibitions.  For anyone else, it would be a marquee year for their sumo career, but, for Byamba, it is just another year.  It is a privilege to have him on this continent!

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