These 100 year-old postcards depict Sumo when it was a bit more muscle and a bit less mass, but in a sport where the goal is not to be moved, either certainly works.
In Japan, the skill is still admired with reverence and tradition we can not even imagine. We love our sports players too, but certainly none of ours go back to 1684, the year Samurai seem to have completed their many centuries long metamorphosis to Sumo. Our biggest and earliest sports heroes only go back to the similarly built (but hardly fit) Babe Ruth, and there are still some of us alive to have actually SEEN the Bambino. (Not to disparage the Swat Sultan...at least he only cheated on his diet and his wife, and his only performance enhancing drug was hot dogs and beer.)
One other big difference between ancient tradition in the East and the mere 100 year old sports in the West? While winning a tournament certainly has financial reward, just look up the average salary of a Sumo wrestler.
Collection of Sumo Wrestler Postcards, circa 1910 Collection Jim Linderman
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