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The ori­gins of sumo were re­li­gious with rit­u­al­is­tic matches per­formed in shrines and ded­i­cated to the gods in the hope of boun­ti­ful har­vests.

In prepa­ra­tion for the bout, wrestlers clap their hands to re­quest the gods’ at­ten­tion and throw salt on to the ring to rid the ground of evil spir­its

Con­sid­ered as a sa­cred space, en­ter­ing the ring ( do­hyo) is re­garded as an act of Shinto pu­rifi­ca­tion and spec­ta­tors are not per­mit­ted to come near the area.

Each sumo wrestler ( rik­ishi) be­longs to a “sta­ble” where they live dis­ci­plined lives of in­ten­sive train­ing and eat­ing.

Spon­sors pay 60,000 yen (£400) to dis­play their ban­ner in the ring (half the money goes to the sport­ing as­so­ci­a­tion, half into an en­ve­lope which the win­ner col­lects at the end of the bout).

The bout is lost if any part of a sumo wrestler’s body ex­cept the soles of his feet touch the ground or he is pushed out of the ring.

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