Jackson Wald at GQ:
As James Grammer, the president of the New York Sumo Beya, prepared for practice one recent Saturday afternoon, he sensed that something was amiss. He’d spent the better part of a year turning his one-bedroom apartment in Queens into a makeshift beya, or training quarters. He’d removed all the furniture from the living room, including his mustard-colored couch, its frame now almost entirely concave from the regular stress of supporting the weight of the beya’s rikishi—its sumo wrestlers. He’d retrieved the equipment necessary for practice, including the mawashi, or sumo belts, and his 200-pound sandbag, used primarily as additional weight for power squats. He tuned his TV to highlights of the most recent grand sumo tournament in Japan, both for technical reference and athletic inspiration. Soon, a motley crew of sumo enthusiasts would crowd into the space to school themselves in the ancient art of sumo wrestling. But when Grammer walked into his living room-turned-dohyo from the kitchen, water, and energy drink in his hands, he noticed a pungent aroma filling the room. The source: His three-foot snake, Gu, had defecated in its shelter beneath the television set.