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Brazilian Women Pushing For Gender Equality in Sumo Wrestling

Valeria and Diana Dall’Olio, a mother-daughter sumo wrestling team from Brazil, are breaking barriers and fighting against gender stereotypes in the sumo wrestling world. Sumo wrestling is a sport that has traditionally been associated with hulking Japanese men, leading many to believe that women, especially small and fragile ones, are not suitable for this sport. However, the Dall’Olios are using their experience to show that anyone, regardless of size, gender or age, can excel in sumo wrestling.

Challenging Prejudice and Discrimination

Valeria Dall’Olio, a former judo and jiu-jitsu practitioner, fell in love with sumo in 2016 and started winning bouts, eventually earning the Brazilian national title three times (in 2018, 2019 and 2021) in the middleweight category (65-73kg or 143-161 pounds). She added the South American championship to her trophy case in 2021. Despite her achievements, Valeria acknowledges that prejudice and discrimination against women in the martial arts world still exists. Women are often scrutinized in martial arts because of the traditional male dominance in these sports.

Women Banned in Professional Sumo in Japan

Sumo wrestling originated in Japan and has been a part of Japanese culture for over 1,500 years. However, women have been banned from professional sumo in Japan, which has been attributed to the sport’s strong association with the Shinto religion. The religious beliefs have traditionally regarded women as impure or bad luck for sumo. Women were also prohibited from attending bouts or even touching sumo wrestlers.

International Amateur Women’s Sumo Championship

Despite the exclusion of women from professional sumo in Japan, an international amateur women’s sumo championship has been held since 2001. The organizers of the competition hope to make it an Olympic sport in the future. For Valeria and Diana Dall’Olio, their love for sumo has led them to push for greater gender equality and inspire other women to take up this sport. They believe that sumo can be a dynamic, strategic, fast, and exciting wrestling style for anyone to practice and enjoy.

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