Friday, April 14, 2017

Sumo Wrestling Book Review #1: - Sumo by Andy Adams and Clyde Newton

A few years go I put together this near-comprehensive list of English-language books on sumo wrestling.   Almost all these books cover a similar amount of material, but all usually specialize in something more than the others (history, heya life, personal stories).  As you can see most were released in the 1980s and 1990s when sumo interest really took off overseas.  I am starting to reread all these book to get a better appreciation for them and will feature book reviews on my blog here when I am done.  First up, Sumo by Andy Adams and Clyde Newton from 1989.

1. The Essential Guide to Sumo by Dorthea Buckingham (1994)
2. Gaijin Yokozuna by Mark Panek (2006)
3. Sumo from Rite to Sport by P.L. Cuyler (1979, revised 1985)
4. The Book of Sumo by Doug Kenrick (1969)
5. Sumo Wrestling by Bill Gutman (1995)
6. Grand Sumo by Lora Sharnoff (1989)
7. The Big Book of Sumo by Mina Hall (1997)
8. The Giants of Sumo by Angela Patmore (1990)
9. Rikishi: The Men of Sumo by Wes Benson (1986)
10. Takamiyama: The World of Sumo by Jesse Kuhaulua (ghostwritten by John Wheeler) (1973)
11. Dynamic Sumo by Clyde Newton (1994)
12. Sumo by Andy Adams and Clyde Newton (Gallery Books, 1989)
13. Sumo: The Sport and Tradition by J.A. Sargeant (Tuttle, 1959)
14. Sumo Watching by S.W.A. (1993)
15. Sumo: A Pocket Guide by Walter Long (1989)
16. Sumo: A pocket Guide by David Shapiro (Tuttle, 1995)
17. The Joy of Sumo by David Benjamin (1991)
18. Sumo by Lyall Watson "A Channel Four Book" (1988)
19. Sumo: A Fan's Guide by Mark Schilling (1994)
20. Grand Sumo Fully Illustrated by PHP Institute Inc
21. Sumo Showdown: The Hawaiian Challenge by Philip Sandoz
22. Jesse: Sumo Superstar by Adams and Schilling
23. Makunouchi Rikishi of the Showa Era by Clyde Newton
24. Sumo - Japanese Wrestling (Tourist Library 34)
25. I am a Rikishi by Reiko Yokono
26. Discover Sumo: Stories from Yobidashi Hideo by Hideo Yamaki (Gendai Shokan, 2017)

Overview:  I started off my book reviews with this book because I really like it.  Sumo has the right amount of detail with the appropriate pictures and is a great book for any beginner...although some of the info is outdated due to its 30-year old publication date.  At 80 pages, it is a fairly quick read.  Broken into 5 sections (Introduction, Rikishi (Wrestlers) in Action, Life at the Stables, The National Arena, Class of the Giants), each section covers important aspect to understanding sumo, the rules, the history, and the culture.

Authors: Andy Adams and Clyde Newton are staples in the English-language world of sumo wrestling.  Andy and Clyde edited and published Sumo World Magazine together later in their careers.  Andy passed away in 2011 and Clyde has presumably taken over, but issues are printed sporadically at best.

Pros: The book is well organized and Andy/Clyde do an excellent job of easing the beginning reader into the world of sumo especially with terminology.  The photos are excelling  This book was published during the great sumo wrestling boom of the late 1980s in England so is almost 30-years old now.  The pre-internet days of sumo yielded some great photos by Gerry Toff, although all the rikishi (wrestlers) have long since retired so at best it is a nice jaunt down memory lane.  Andy and Clyde's proximity to the sumo world make for some fascinating stories like winning large jars of mushrooms and a year's supply of Coca-Cola...not to mention the great feats of beer drinking by some of the rikishi.

Cons: An one odd choice of organization is the history of sumo as it is embedded in the back under The National Arena section.  I supposed for a beginner, this might be better left to the end, but organizationally, it probably warrants its own section.  The book is also fairly large (9.5" x 12.5") so can be a slight pain to get it on a book shelf or store...especially since it is a hardback. 

Cost:  You can still pick copies of this up off of eBay for $15-$20, but surprisingly there doesn't seem to be any for sale in the United States at the moment.  Amazon is probably your best bet to get used copies of this for under $10 in the U.S.

Overall Score: A-


  1. I'm not a big fan of reading books... but books with pictures increase my interest. I'll have to read these books vicariously through your blog though, because I've already got a ton of books sitting on my nightstand that haven't been opened in months.

    1. No worries. I love reading and will happily do a little extra reading for you. I always wish I would have more time to read. Maybe in retirement!