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Two sumo wrestlers start club to push sport in Utah

Published July 11, 2011 11:32 am

Heavy weights • Northen Utah Sumo Club seeks followers in Davis, Weber and Cache counties.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sumo conjures images of large Japanese men squaring off in a ring, bent low, followed by an explosion of mass.

If Josh Petersen and Wesley Allen accomplish their goal, it will grow into a popular sport in northern Utah. The two founded Northern Utah Sumo, or NU Sumo, a club looking for followers of all shapes throughout Davis, Weber and Cache counties.

"A lot of people are scared at first, but it's not all about size," Allen said. "You don't have to be a big, huge guy to win, but you have to have that intensity and that drive when you're out there."

Allen first became interested in sumo after watching the history of the sport on the Travel Channel. At 280 pounds, he felt he didn't have the skills required to play sports like football and basketball, but still felt the desire to compete.

"At first, I didn't know what to do," he said. "I watched videos of YouTube of the professionals. I watched videos on my own, but felt I needed more training."

Allen went to the expert, Trent Sabo, a member of the U.S. National Team and winner of seven of the last 10 U.S. lightweight sumo championships. It was through his connection with Sabo that Allen first met Petersen, the dean of faculty at Broadview University in Salt Lake City.

Petersen was attracted to sumo because of the respectful tradition of the sport.

"I like that side of it, that there's not a lot of celebration," he said. "Whether you win or lose, you don't show a lot of emotion, you just bow to each other. Plus, it utilizes what I am as a person. I'm a bigger guy and it fits well with what I want to do."

Through their practice in Idaho Falls and around Utah, they have already shown significant promise. They've competed in two tournaments in Idaho, with Petersen and Allen taking first and second, respectively. At the U.S. National Sumo Championship, Petersen placed fourth.

Petersen hopes that his success helps guide more people from Utah into the sport.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to cross-train and to get to meet a bunch of big people who are interested in spending time together," Petersen said. "It's a unique sport that takes a lot of mental preparation as well as physical." —

NU Sumo

Josh Petersen was the second biggest sumo at the national competition, coming in at 6 feet 8 inches tall, weighing 400 pounds.

At the International competition, Petersen had the chance to compete against Byamba, a three-time world champion.

Wesley Allen has practiced and worked on his technique with Olympic Gold medalist Rulon Gardner.

For more information on NU Sumo visit nusumo.wordpress.com or email Nusumo.sumo@gmail.com.






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