Women's Sumo Growing by Leaps and Pounds

Japan's national sumo association says it has no problem with women competing in the sport, on an amateur level — they're not even opposed to the possibility of it becoming an Olympic sport someday. But, tradition is tradition, rules are rules, and women are still not welcome on the professional levels.

For now, Yoko and women like her will have to keep grunting and pushing just for the fun of it, for the love of the sport, and to prove to the men that that they're just as skilled as they are.

But the old-boy network had better watch out, because female sumo only continues to grow — in leaps and pounds. Girls as young as 8 are now picking up the sport in school, and two women have even broken the gender barrier and are now calling the shots as referees.

The women of sumo respect the traditions of the sport, and they're working hard to make their mark in this all-male society. In the process, however, they've been sure not to hold a grudge — they even invite the men inside the ring at the women-only competitions. After all, someone has to sweep away the dirt in between bouts.

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