2009 Akita International Sumo Basho

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2009 Akita International Sumo Basho
DateJuly 12
LocationAkita Budokan
No. Men22
No. Women10
Men's Championship
ChampionDoug Heller
Runner-upPhilip Cooke
Fighting SpiritJames Jones
No. of bouts?
Women's Championship
ChampionAnne Smith
Runner-upAlicia Cook
Fighting SpiritYosan Legaspi
No. of bouts?
2008 2010

The 5th annual Akita International Sumo Basho (第五回秋田県国際相撲場所) took place on Sunday, July 12th 2009 at the Akita Budokan in Akita City. This year saw the introduction of a women's tournament. Akita TV, the Sakigake Newspaper, and the Asashi Newspaper attended the tournament. On 13th and 15th July a television broadcast went out on Akita TV and on 13th an article was featured in the Sakigake newspaper.

Fund raising

The event was in aid of Room to Read. Over 100 people attended the event. The entrance fee was ¥1,300 (¥1,000 for university students, ¥500 for students). A fantasy sumo competition was also held with an entrance fee of ¥200. A baked goods sale was also held at the event.
In total ¥137,450 was raised.

Men's Opening Round

Pool A Wins Losses
John Ma 0 4
Luca Rickenbach 2 2
Jae Grobler 2 2
Dan Dooher 4 0
Rob Evans 2 2
Pool B Wins Losses
Owen Cunningham 3 1
James Jones 4 0
Mike Nakashima 2 2
Matt Kuehl 0 4
Harsh Gupta 1 3
Pool C Wins Losses
Bryan Barber 3 1
David Thomson 1 3
Frank Molombo 2 2
Doug Heller 3 1
Phil Cooke 3 1
Mike Buonadonna 0 4
Pool D Wins Losses
Tristen Dean 0 4
Makoto Morita 2 2
Mizuki Kawamura 1 3
Chris Parkins 3 1
Pat Costello 2 2
Travis Emery 4 0


  1. In Pools A & B, each rikishi will have one bout with the four opponents in his pool. In Pools C & D, each rikishi will have one bout with three opponents in his pool, and one bout with an opponent outside of his group.
  2. The two rikishi with the best records in each pool advance to the second round.
  3. In the case of tied records, tie-breaker bouts (ketteisen) will be conducted.

Women's Opening Round

Pool A Wins Losses
Anne Smith 3 1
Yosan Legaspi 3 1
Melissa Dawe 3 1
Amanda Power 1 3
Bess Anderson 0 4
Pool B Wins Losses
Jez Martinez 1 3
Caito Driscoll 0 4
Elaine Bell 2 2
Alicia Miller 4 0
Abby Trott 3 1


  1. Each rikishi will have one bout with the four opponents in her pool.
  2. The one rikishi with the best record in each pool advances to the championship.
  3. In the case of tied records, tie-breaker bouts (ketteisen) will be conducted.

Men's Second Round

Pool I Wins Losses
Dan Dooher 1 2
Owen Cunningham 2 1
Philip Cooke 3 0
Chris Parkins 0 3
Pool II Wins Losses
James Jones 2 1
Luca Rickenbach 0 3
Travis Emery 1 2
Doug Heller 3 0


  1. Pools are made up of winners and runner-ups in the opening round.
  2. Each rikishi will have one bout with the three opponents in his group
  3. The rikishi with the best record in each pool advances to the championship.

Men's Final

Philip Cooke vs. Doug Heller

Women's Final

Anne Smith vs. Alicia Miller


Men's Champion: Doug Heller
Men's Runner-up: Philip Cooke
Men's Fighting Spirit Prize: James Jones

Women's Champion: Anne Smith
Women's Runner up: Alicia Cook
Women's Fighting Spirit Prize: Yosan Legaspi


The following file, compiled by Bryan Barber, has detailed statistical information about the competition.


TV Broadcast

Akita TV attended the basho and made a program. It was broadcast on Akita TV on 13th and 15th July.

Newspaper Articles

Asahi Shimbun - July 13th, 2009

Language Assistants at Sumo Competition

On the 12th, Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) from elementary and other schools throughout the prefecture, wanting to have a "full-body" experience of Japanese culture, gathered at the prefectural Budo-kan in order to hold an international sumo competition.

The participants were 30 men and women from over 11 countries, including the USA, India, Switzerland, and Singapore. Normally they teach English in school classrooms, but today they appeared on the dohyo, looking rather eccentric with mawashi wrapped over colorful shorts and boxers. When a tiny little rikishi managed to throw down a large and heavily built opponent, shouts of, "Fantastic!" rose.

Lanky, dreadlocked Frank Mollombo from South Africa (36) is an English teacher in Akita City. He experienced some of the depth of sumo. Seeming surprised, he said, "You don't just win by power alone. Even against a small opponent, you don't know what will happen until you try it. We don't have a sport like this in my home country, so I think it's fascinating."

Akita Sakigake - July 15th, 2009

ALTs from Akita and other prefectures
9 Women Participate For First Time

On the 12th, Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) from Akita and Aomori gathered at the prefectural Budo-kan in Akita City to hold the 5th International Sumo Charity Competition. 31 foreigners, including for the first time 9 women, battled fiercely in the dohyo.

As one heated struggle after another continued, sometimes with small competitors throwing down much larger opponents, the crowd of 70 onlookers went wild. At the end of every bout, as the victor was announced, the arena exploded with cheers and applause. Many of the "rikishi" went tumbling right off the dohyo platform, but the victors would extend their hands to help their defeated opponents back up in a fine show of good spirits and sportsmanship.

Mr. Douglas Heller (24, from England), who came through to become the "Yokozuna" of the men's competition, said, "I became confident that I could continue winning, and I think that helped me be victorious. I'll be returning to my home country at the end of this month, so this was a great experience to have."

Ms. Anne Smith (26, USA), from Yokote, who was the victor of the women's division, said, "I was looking forward to the competition. I never expected that I would actually win. I definitely want to do this again next year."

The competition was hosted by Room to Read-Akita, a charity organization run by Akita's ALTs. The entrance fees for the competition and other proceeds raised by sales will be used to build libraries in three countries, including India.


See also

Years of the Akita International Sumo Basho
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