NAGOYA (REUTERS) - The sound of bodies slapping against each other rocks the stifling sumo "stable" in the central Japanese city of Nagoya, as 11 huge wrestlers wearing loincloths take turns throwing each other out of a ring of sand.
The training takes places under the watchful eyes of Kyokutenho Masaru, better known by his fighting name Kyokutenho, Japan's first Mongolian-born 'oyakata', or sumo master.
In June this year, the 42-year-old assumed the helm of the prestigious Tomozuna beya, a stable with a 260-year history.
The tough training and tradition-bound ways have put off many local youth from the sport, leaving sumo to be dominated by foreign - mainly Mongolian - wrestlers, who endure a gruelling path to assimilation.
Today, the one-time champion, who was born Nyamjavyn Tsevegnyam, speaks near-flawless Japanese, has a Japanese wife, and has given up his Mongolian nationality to become Japanese - a requirement to become a sumo master.
Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament ends on Sunday (July 23).