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When titans clashed at ‘Techofes 2012'

Sowmiya Ashok
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Sumo wrestlers Byambajav Ulambayar (right) and Kelly Gneiting, at the ‘Techofes 2012’ in Chennai on Saturday.Photo: S.S.Kumar
Sumo wrestlers Byambajav Ulambayar (right) and Kelly Gneiting, at the ‘Techofes 2012’ in Chennai on Saturday.Photo: S.S.Kumar

The vibrations that ran through the makeshift rooms backstage could have been mistaken to be from the booming speakers that were playing popular Tamil numbers. Yet, if one happened to take a look behind the closed curtain, the true source of these tremors was revealed – a 165 kg Sumo wrestler named Byambajav Ulambayar warming up for his upcoming match – which largely involved slapping his thigh, squatting and making ‘whoosh' noises.

Two curtains away, his opponent, 42-year-old Kelly Gneiting, weighing a whopping 195 kg, was quite satisfied posing for a string of photo requests from the students of the College of Engineering Guindy.

These Sumo wrestlers, one American and another Mongolian, along with announcer Andrew Freund, were at the Anna University campus on Saturday as part of CEG's cultural fest ‘Techofes 2012', to showcase the Japanese sport in Chennai.

“This is really special because of the size of the stage, the enthusiasm of the crowd and the scale at which it has been organised,” remarked Mr. Freund. “These two are the best guys outside of Japan for Sumo wrestling,” he said, just as the duo posed for quite a number of ‘funny photos' to his right.

Soon it was time for the real deal which not surprisingly, got the audience excited. “The match starts with a big clap to summon spirits and show that there are no weapons under their arms,” announced Mr. Andrew, as the wrestlers took their positions and clapped in unison.

The crowd may have been enamoured by a video clip of the three-time world Sumo champion Byamba, using technique to win over his opponents, but as they saw him using the same moves with Kelly, their loyalties shifted in favour of the latter who was grabbing onto Byamba's ‘mawashi' (sumo belt) to gain some leverage. But finally, 27-year-old Byamba walked away with seven wins tucked away under his ‘mawashi'. “Kelly can beat any Sumo wrestler in the world,” announced Mr.Freund. “But Byamba has always been his toughest opponent.”

As for V.P. Gautham, president, CEG's Students Association and Arts Society, the need to do something different from other college fests was the inspiration for the match. “We did not want to invite a rock band from abroad since everyone else does that,” he said.

“Maybe I can spend some time with the Sumo wrestlers before seeing them off at the airport.”

The Hindu is the media partner for ‘Techofes 2012'.

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