Photo essay: Sumo wrestlers take to the mat at Dubai restaurant

Demonstration fights were staged in Tabu at St Regis Downtown Dubai

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Sumo wrestling matches aren't exactly the first thing that spring to mind when going out to a restaurant for dinner – especially in Dubai.

However, diners at Tabu in Business Bay were recently treated to short demonstration bouts while they enjoyed their meals on the rooftop of The St Regis Downtown Dubai.

Resident sumo wrestler Saita Fumiya, who weighs 130 kilograms, and celebrity wrestler Hiroki Sumi (250kg) participated in friendly matches against each other in the restaurant.

During the event at Tabu, the two sumo wrestlers explained how they get ready for a match and what the risks involved are.

"When I was competing, I would eat about 10,000 calories a day divided into three meals that would consist of a big bowl of rice, protein and a hot pot," Fumiya said.

"I have broken more than seven bones including both knees, ankles, several fingers and had some neck injuries."

Sumi, his sumo celebrity opponent, explained how he gravitated towards the sport.

"I was always a large boy and by the time I graduated from junior high school I was already 190cm tall and weighed 120kg," he said.

"I made my debut in sumo in March 2005 and never looked back."

He added: "Active sumos consume about 10,000 calories a day. Our training is also very intense, meaning you could lose about 5kg a day in one training session.

"I used to eat three big meals and have a mandatory nap after lunch."

Tables at Tabu are positioned with a view of a ring where demonstrations of the sport take place, with wrestlers grappling with each other until one is either forced to the ground or thrown out of the ring completely.

“We knew we wanted to bring something different to Dubai,” said Maria Ollero Sunyer, the restaurant’s marketing director.

“An authentic sumo wrestler presents a modern approach to a traditional Japanese sport while respecting the tradition. Thankfully the vision came to life.

“Showing sumo to diners in Dubai is a unique experience – we get to present this ancient art to a new audience.”

The event ran until June 17 and although the show is not a regular feature at the restaurant, Sunyer said there are plans to bring the wrestlers back later in the year.

Updated: July 28, 2023, 6:01 PM