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Clash of the titans: Trump set for sumo showdown

24 May 2019 - 51   - 0

Call it the ultimate culture clash: Donald Trump is going to the sumo, where the brash US leader will watch one of Japan's most ancient and revered sporting traditions.

A huge pro-wrestling fan, Trump once body-slammed and shaved the head of an American wrestling bigwig during a televised event.

But the taciturn and highly-ritualised world of sumo is a world away from the garish costumes, flamboyant characters and scripted bouts beloved of American teenagers.

And opinion in Japan is split over the decision to invite the outspoken president to present a custom-made "Trump Cup" to the winning wrestler in Tokyo this weekend -- an unorthodox turn in a sport steeped in history and solemn ceremony.

Trump won't be the first foreign dignitary to visit sumo's hallowed Ryogoku Kokugikan venue, where Prince Charles and Princess Diana watched some of the 1986 summer tournament.

However, Trump's decision to take in some bouts at the site famously graced by James Bond in the 1967 film "You Only Live Twice" offers plenty of possible security and cultural conundrums.

- Hurling cushions -

How, for example, might secret service agents react to the tradition of sumo fans hurling their seat cushions when a "yokozuna" (grand champion) is toppled -- a rowdy celebration that could leave their boss in the line of fire.

Since, as a mere president, he won't be sitting in the Imperial box -- unlike royals Charles and Diana -- Trump will have to make do with a ring-level box close to the action.

AFP

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