x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Egyptian will cope with Ramadan during his sumo competition

Abdelrahman Ahmed Shaalan, the first from the Arab world in the traditional Japanese sport, says he will consume large amounts of water to help him cope with competition.

Egypt's Abdelrahman Ahmed Shaalan is the first from the Arab world to compete in the traditional Japanese sport of sumo.
Egypt's Abdelrahman Ahmed Shaalan is the first from the Arab world to compete in the traditional Japanese sport of sumo.

The first professional sumo wrestler from the Arab world says he is not worried about the effects of observing Ramadan during a top competition.

Egypt's Abdelrahman Ahmed Shaalan said "no problem" when asked about the Ramadan fast overlapping with his final bout at a tournament in Nagoya.

"No problem - I only think of winning the remaining bouts," Shaalan was quoted as saying in Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.

"I'm confident."

Shaalan, better known by his ring name Osunaarashi (which translates as "Great Sandstorm") said he will not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan.

Sumo wrestlers depend on eating vast quantities of food to keep up their stout physiques and for energy during tournaments, which are held several times a year across Japan.

However, the Egyptian plans to consume large amounts of water before and after daylight to help him cope.

The 20 year old claimed victory in the novice class in a tournament in May, winning seven bouts with no defeats to dominate the Jonokuchi class, the lowest of six divisions in the highly-ritualised sport.

The wrestler, who thanks to that success has moved up one rank, has earned four wins with one defeat during the two-week contest in Nagoya.

He did not compete in one bout as he was recovering from an ankle injury, according to the Japan Sumo Association.

"His movement was smooth," Shaalan's coach, Otake, was quoted as saying. "His leg looks OK now."

The Egyptian won an open-class bronze medal at the 2008 world junior sumo championships and an over-100kg bronze at the 2010 tournament before joining the professional ranks.

Small in number, foreigners are vital members of tradition-bound sumo. Mongolians, led by the grand champion Hakuho, have been a dominant force in the top ranks for years.

The sport has suffered in recent years with a hugely damaging bout-fixing scandal that infuriated the public and forced the resignations of about two dozen wrestlers and a stablemaster.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE