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Sumo wrestling takes place in an extremely small ring, only about 12 feet (less than 4 metres) in diameter. The bout is won if a contestant can force his opponent out of the ring or make any part of his body, other than the soles of the feet, touch the ground. Massive bulk, with a low centre of gravity, is an essential part of success. The struggle, brief but of great intensity, is like the titanic clash of soft but mighty sealions.

A national championship has been an annual event since 1624. The sport has a huge following in Japan. Through television it is also beginning to exercise its fascination abroad.

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