Preview of the US Sumo Open 2019

In addition to the Haru Basho 2019 wrapping next weekend, we also have another exciting sumo event – the US Sumo Open 2019!  The US Sumo Open is one of the two premier sumo events in North America.  Whereas the US Sumo Nationals, the other premier event, is restricted to only US competitors, the US Sumo Open allows competitors from all over the world to compete – and they indeed travel from far and wide.  Last year alone, the US Sumo Open saw competitors from the USA, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, Mongolia, Poland, Germany, Tajikistan, Sri Lanka, Peru, and China.

So what is in store for this year?  Quite a lot!  The organizers of the US Sumo Open have been advertising their returning stars from around the world, which leads to many compelling storylines.  Below, I review each of the weightclasses and discuss the favorites to win – both from North America and around the world.  If you think that I have missed out on anyone, feel free to contact me at NorthAmericanSumo@Gmail.com.

For more information about the US Sumo Open, please click here!

[Note: USA Sumo contacted me and said that they are unable to authorize use of US Sumo Open video, and therefore I needed to remove all gifs of the event.  This is why this post may look a little sparse.  One day, I may edit this post to add gifs from other events.]


Men’s Lightweight (85 kg / 188 lbs)

North America

Cornelius Booker finished first in the lightweight division at the US Sumo Nationals 2019, and he will be looking to prove again that he can compete on the world stage before the World Sumo Championships 2019.  He has never received a medal at the US Sumo Open, but he had also never won Nationals before this year, too.

Justin Kizzart vs Cornelius Booker - US Sumo Nationals 2019 - Lightweight
Cornelius Booker defeats Justin Kizzart to win gold at the US Sumo Nationals 2019

Trent Sabo is the perennial US lightweight favorite, and one of the best American amateur sumo wrestlers ever.  He didn’t compete at the US Sumo Nationals this year, which could mean he will either be extra fresh or extra rusty.  I think most would consider Trent to have the best chance of grabbing gold of all the North American lightweights, which he did at the US Sumo Open in 2017.

[Gif removed at the request of USA Sumo]

Justin Kizzart has medaled multiple times at the US Sumo Nationals, and he won silver in a close final match with Cornelius during this year’s Nationals.  Justin usually has a strong performance at the US Sumo Open, but he has never won a medal.  Could he change that this time around?

The World

Batyr Altyev of Russia has twice won gold at the US Sumo Open – once in 2016 and once in 2018.   He is certainly the man to beat in the lightweight division, and I know that he is the competitor that the other lightweights have strategized against the most.  Let’s see if he can repeat his performance again this year.

[Gif removed at the request of USA Sumo]

Sviatoslav Semykras of Ukraine won silver at the US Sumo Open and gold at the World Sumo Championships last year.  I’m sure he wants to take down Batyr, who bested him last year, and prove that he is the best in the world at lightweight.


Men’s Middleweight (100 kg / 221 lbs)

North America

Although Ed Suczewski competed in the middleweight division at the US Sumo Nationals, I was told from a reliable source that he will be competing in the light heavyweight division at the US Sumo Open.  So, the middleweight division is wide open this year, and I have no idea who is the best American competitor in the division.  Perhaps the lightweight Philip Barnes will bump up a weight-class again?

The World

Boldbaatar Baldandorj of Mongolia made it to the semi-finals of last year’s US Sumo Open in the light heavyweight division, weighing in at only 219 pounds.  If he competes again this year, then I am sure that he’d be a favorite to win the middleweight division.


Men’s Light Heavyweight (115 kg / 254 lbs)

North America

Kena Heffernan, like Trent Sabo, is almost always the favorite whenever he is competing.  He has won gold in the middleweight division three times at the US Sumo Open, although he has not competed at the Open in the past few years.  Will he make his return this year?

Kena Heffernan vs Jacob Gill 2 - US Sumo Nationals 2019 - Middleweight
Kena Heffernan defeats Jacob Gill to win gold at the US Sumo Nationals 2019

Edward Suczewski won silver in the light heavyweight division last year at the US Sumo Open, and he won gold in the middleweight division at this year’s US Sumo Nationals.  He seems to be in prime competition shape, which makes him dangerous against the heavy-hitters of the world.

Edward Suczewski vs Joshua Clements - US Sumo Nationals 2019 - New Weight Class
Edward Suczewski defeats Joshua Clements to win gold at the US Sumo Nationals 2019

The World

Konstaintin Abdula-Zade of Russia won gold last year the the US Sumo Open, after winning silver in 2016.  He is certainly the man to beat in the light heavyweight division, especially considering how difficult it is to win two years in a row.

[Gif removed at the request of USA Sumo]

Altankhuyag Altangerel of Mongolia won gold at the US Sumo Open in 2016 and 2017.  He didn’t compete last year, and it is unclear whether he is competing this year.  However, if he is, his match against Konstaintin would be one of the most anticipated bouts of the whole event.

Vazha Daiauri of Ukraine has been confirmed to compete, and he won silver at the US Sumo Open in 2018.  He only lost to Konstaintin last year, and I am sure that he will want to avenge his only loss this year.


Men’s Heavyweight (No Limit)

North America

Roy Sims won the US Sumo Open last year, being only the second person ever to take the gold medal away from Byamba in 12 years.  He will be looking to repeat his historic performance this year.  I also heard that this may be Roy’s last year competing in sumo, and I am sure that he will want to go out on top.

[Gif removed at the request of USA Sumo]

Robert Fuimaono finished second in the heavyweight division and first in the openweight division at the US Sumo Nationals 2019.  Robert’s heavyweight placement came down to a best-of-three series with Roy Sums, in which Roy was able take away gold with two victories and only one loss.  Robert will be looking to take the crown away from Roy in the US Sumo Open.

Shawn Buller finished fourth at the US Sumo Open last year, and he was Team USA’s heavyweight representative at the World Sumo Championships 2018.  He is always one of the fan’s favorites to watch, and he is plenty dangerous as a competitor.  He has a real chance of not only winning a medal – but winning the whole thing.

The World

Byambajav Ulambayar of Mongolia is a legend in North American sumo.  He has won the heavyweight division at the US Sumo Open in 10 of the past 12 years, and his mark on the sport in North America is unparalleled.  Last year, however, he finished second to Roy Sims, and I am sure that Byamba will be looking to take his crown back.

[Gif removed at the request of USA Sumo]

Hiroki Sumi of Japan is a former Japanese professional rikishi, and he is one of the very rare rikishi who will be crossing over into American amateur sumo.  Two years ago, Hiroki was competing at the top of the makushita divison, after previously competing in juryo.  I believe this clearly makes him the favorite to win the heavyweight division.

Hiroki Sumi vs Kenho - Natsu Basho 2015
Hiroki Sumi defeats Kenho at the Natsu Basho 2015

Ramy Elgazar of Egypt was the first person to take the US Sumo Open heavyweight crown from Byamba, winning gold in 2015.  He also won silver in 2016 and 2017, and he is looking to add to his medal-count – preferably his gold medal count.


Women’s Lightweight (65 kg / 144 lbs)

North America

Morgan Chateau took silver in the lightweight division at last year’s US Sumo Open, and she won the middleweight division at this year’s US Sumo Nationals.  If she chooses to compete in the lightweight division at the Open this year, then she would almost certainly be the American with the best chance of winning.

Morgan Chateau vs Jenelle Hamilton 2 - US Sumo Nationals 2019 - New Weight Class
Morgan Chateau defeats Jenelle Hamilton to win gold at the US Sumo Nationals 2019

The World

Magdalena Macios of Poland won the lightweight division at last year’s US Sumo Open.  Will she be back to defend her title?  Only time will tell.


Women’s Middleweight (73 kg / 161 lbs)

North America & The World

In the new weightclass, it is difficult to tell who will compete for the gold.  Morgan Chateau won the division at the US Sumo Nationals, so she may decide to compete at middleweight instead of lightweight at the US Sumo Open, too.  As for the rest of the world, I have no idea who will appear.


Women’s Light Heavyweight (80 kg / 177 lbs)

North America

Cody Stout won the light heavyweight division at this year’s US Sumo Nationals,  but I do not believe that she typically competes at the US Sumo Open.  If she does appear, then she would be the favorite among the Americans – unless Mariah Holmes decided to compete in this division.

Carrie Hubery vs Cody Stout - US Sumo Nationals 2019 - Middleweight
Cody Stout defeats Carrie Hubery to win gold at the US Sumo Nationals 2019

The World

Undrakhzaya Nyamsuren of Mongolia won the light heavyweight division at last year’s US Sumo Open, making her the favorite for this year.  Like some other competitors, however, it is difficult to tell whether she will return to keep her crown.


Women’s Heavyweight (No Limit)

North America

Mariah Holmes may be the best North American female senshu – period.  She won the heavyweight division at this year’s US Sumo Nationals, and she won the openweight division at last year’s US Sumo Open.  I am sure that everyone else in this weightclass will be looking to take the crown from her.

Sumo World Championships 2018 - Mariah Holmes - Match 2
Mariah Holmes defeats German Competitor at the World Sumo Championships 2018

Danna Engelberg has the best chance of beating Mariah Holmes.  In fact, at this year’s US Sumo Nationals, she defeated Mariah to win the openweight division.  Can she do it again?  I know that Danna vs. Mariah will be one of the matches that I am looking forward to the most.

Danna Engelberg vs Jasmine Jones - US Sumo Nationals 2019 - Heavyweight
Danna Engelberg defeats Jasmine Jones at the US Sumo Nationals 2019 – Heavyweight

The World

There are many dominant female heavyweights around the world, but few of them regularly appear at the US Sumo Open.  I would love to see Olga Davydko at the Open, for instance, but I am excited to see just who will show up from around the world in this division.  It could be anyone!

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