Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
23 - 29 December 1999
Issue No. 461
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues

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By Abeer Anwar

The national team won a respectable fifth place out of 43 countries in last week's world sumo wrestling championship in Germany.

Egypt's four players, unable to make a dent in the individual event, fared better in the team event as they beat Estonia 2-1, lost to Poland 3-0, beat Switzerland 2-1 and lost to the US 2-1 to lose out on the bronze medal. Still, the fifth place finish meant that Egypt automatically qualified for the Masters World Championship in Japan in December 2000. Mohamed Samak was Egypt's David, outwitting an American goliath who weighed in at 330 kilogrammes, compared to the relatively diminutive Samak at 115 kilogrammes.

The game, whose aim is to throw a gargantuan opponent out a circular ring, meant almost nothing to Egyptians until four years ago when the sport was introduced and incorporated into the Judo Federation and was first practiced by judo players. The Egyptians finished in fifth place in the 1998 World Championship in Japan and, as a result, had their air tickets and accommodations paid for by the International Sumo Federation when they travelled to Germany. And Cairo will host next year's African championship.

Sameh Mobasher, the man responsible for sumo wrestling in Egypt and former head of the Egyptian, Arab and African Judo Federation, said he had requested Egyptian Youth Minister Aliyiddin Helal to form a separate federation for sumo wrestling. He said he had asked that the would-be federation be put under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports since both judo and sumo wrestling "can no longer continue together."

Mobasher said he had also sought for Egypt to host the world championship in 2003. Al-Ahram, he said, is willing to sponsor the event.

To illustrate how popular the sport is becoming, sumo wrestling will be an exhibition sport in the 2004 Olympics in Greece and will become official in the 2008 Olympics.

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