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American Sumo wrestler ready for World Games

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Andrew Roden has quite the resume. He's closing in on a PHD in psychology, and he's a champion Sumo wrestler. Yes, he's a Sumo wrestler.

“Everyone thinks it’s only in Japan," Roden says. "I mean, they’re usually like, 'What? Sumo?!' Yeah. Sumo. It’s a thing.”

It is indeed a thing.

Roden is the US light heavyweight champion, and the reigning North American light heavyweight champion. he’s training for the world games in Alabama where he can add “World champion” to his resume. That's not bad for a guy who just started doing this in 2020, after being nearly a decade removed from his college wrestling days in the RMAC.

“As I start learning about the sport, watching some matches, it hits me. I could be pretty good at this if I got back into training, got back in shape, because I’d been out of competition for nine years," Roden says. "I told everyone from day one, I want to win the world games in 2022. I started training. I went to my first tournament in September 2020. I went 10-0 and beat two defending national champions. I’m competing for a world championship, and it’s pretty surreal.”

His nickname is Stonewall.

He's been training in Colorado Springs for three months, and plans to make The Springs his permanent home later this year.

If you’re like me, you might have thought sumo wrestling was just a bunch of big guys smashing their bellies into each other.

“It is a little more technical than that," Roden says. "That’s the stereotype. That’s what a lot of people think it is. Those initial hits, which is called a ‘Tachi-ai’, they’re pretty hard. We hit pretty hard. From that point on, it’s a lot like wrestling and judo combined."

"It’s a lot of hand fighting, there’s headbutting. You can strike to the face. No closed fist punching, but you can palm strike to the face and stuff. I’ve actually had my nose broke, my forehead split. It’s a pretty physical sport.”

Sumo training requires a strict diet, and intense training. Roden can bench press 370lbs, deadlift 575, and squat 525.

The World Games run from July 7-17 in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Danny Mata

Danny Mata is a sports anchor/reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Danny here.


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