SUMOS: A New Short Film on Mongolian Sumo

Acclaimed photographer Catherine Hyland has released an astonishing look at Sumo in Mongolia. In a project commissioned by WeTransfer’s WePresent arm, Hyland has released a stunning series of photographs and a short film, titled SUMOS: Rise of the Mongolians, providing insight into the world of the sport in Mongolia. Groundbreaking Mongolian rikishi Kyokushuzan, who now trains young wrestlers in Mongolia, makes an appearance in the film, which also features an interview with a recent Hakuho Cup winner who aspires to be like the tournament’s namesake someday.

Many of us around the world are of course aware of the presence and dominance of many rikishi (and Yokozuna, and yusho winners, and now stablemasters) from Mongolia, but I felt this short film was exceptionally interesting by presenting us with moving images from a country which is extraordinarily infrequently covered in the western media. Indeed, any conversation about Ichinojo will go to serve how the origin stories of Mongolian rikishi can be the stuff of legend.

The short film – SUMOS: Rise of the Mongolians – is embedded above. Click here to read a brief interview with Hyland about the project on WePresent, which includes some wonderful photos from the project.

In other news, this is apparently our 2000th post on the site, so thank you all for joining us!

15 thoughts on “SUMOS: A New Short Film on Mongolian Sumo

  1. The reason why some of the best rikishi come from a place like Mongolia is the same reason why the best basketball and American football players tend to come from poor inner-city neighbourhoods and the best football players come from council estates in inner-city Europe or poor third world countries. It’s a potential way out of poverty. I’ve been to Mongolia, and I could see there’s not much opportunity there. The economy is growing rapidly, but the money ends up in the hands of the wealthiest 1% and doesn’t trickle down much to the other 99%. It’s often easier to survive in the country living a nomadic life than it is to live in Ulan Bator. Unemployment and alcoholism are rampant. The education system is quite good, but many high school and university graduates can’t find work and end up emigrating. So sumo provides a potential opportunity to make a lot of money overseas and support your family back home.

  2. Bummer that the point of the film is expressed in a written article at the end. Why not put that in the film and show us what they write about? An arty tidbit but hardly worth the effort to make such a film and say it really says much about Mongolian sumo. I’m all for anything sumo but I feel this falls short of achieveing the artist’s desired effect.

    • My understanding is that it’s a part of a larger production with WePresent/WeTransfer, covering various forms of media. The filmmaker is also a photographer, and my understanding – though we are working to find out more – is that they wanted to spotlight all of this content, and then presented it alongside an interview from the artist.

      Obviously we will all have our own reactions – and like anything in art, those reactions will be subjective in nature. I’m happy however to have seen striking visuals on another side of the sport that we rarely get to see in HD.


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