Egyptian Sumo Wrestler Osunaarashi Still at Top of His Game Despite Ramadan Fast


Osunaarashi, the Egyptian sumo wrestler, after a Tokyo tournament in May (Photo: Phlyz/Wiki Commons)

His real name is Abdel Rahman Ahmed Shaalan. But in Japan, they call him Osunaarashi, or "Great Sandstorm."

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Shaalan is 21-year-old professional sumo wrestler who hails from Giza in Egypt. After a few years of training at the club level in Egypt, Shaalan left Egypt to try to break into the Japanese professional ranks.

So far, the 6'2", 320 lb. wrestler is doing pretty well. He was moved up into the sport's second highest division.

Osunaarashi is currently fighting in a tournament in Tokyo, but here's the thing: He is also a devout Muslim, and this is the holy month of Ramadan. And that means Osunaarashi is fasting. It's all part and parcel of a traditional Japanese sport that's being forced to make changes to accommodate a growing number of good wrestlers from outside of Japan.

We hear more from Ethan Zuckerman, who spends most of his time writing about technology and directing the Center for Civic Media at MIT, but who also happens to be a fanatical fan of Japanese sumo.