The Sumo and Sushi event came to New York City on its last stop of the East Coast tour on June 23-25, 2023. It took place at the Armory Track on 216 Fort Washington Ave., New York, NY 10032. I don’t think it’s ever been possible to see a sumo wrestling match in New York City before, so this was certainly a “must see” event.
It wasn’t a real sumo wrestling match per-se though, as it was geared more towards introducing Americans to the sport, and that is totally fine with me since I am an American that doesn’t know much about sumo wrestling.
The event started with a cool drum show while we got drinks and snacks at the tables.
Retired sumo wrestlers demonstrated stretching techniques and exercises along with the rules of the sport and how a wrestler can win the match. You have to either push your opponent out of the green circle or make any part of their body (besides their feet) touch the ground. When either of those things happen, the match is over.
They also demonstrated some of the illegal moves like kicking, punching, eye gouging, and removing the belt. Open hand slapping is ok though.
After we learned all about the rules, the main course sushi bento box arrived at our tables. The regular sushi dinner option was provided by BentOn NYC. Higher priced ticket levels had different dinner options from Chef Omakase.
During dinner we cheered on some real sumo wrestling matches as the 6 wrestlers took turns fighting each other.
At the end of the night, a small number of audience members who had purchased the extra “fight a sumo wrestler” ticket were actually able to go into the ring and challenge the sumo wrestler of their choice. In just about all cases, the professional sumo wrestlers were gentle with the audience members, and a few were kind of obviously allowed to win just to make it more fun.
And it was 100% fun!
The Sushi + Show ticket level was the one I chose at $160. This is the one that included the sushi dinner. There was also a “viewing only” ticket level for $95 which got you normal stadium seating on the upper levels. Front row seating was $300 and included nicer food and a drink. The VIP Sky suite ticket level was $400 with an elevated platform towards the ends (further from the ring), but this included a much better on-demand sushi chef, open bar, and expedited entrance. You can see more information about the ticket levels here.
The event was hosted by Konishiki, the first non-Japanese-born wrestler to reach ōzeki, the second highest rank in Sumo. The wrestlers in the show included Aononami, Chiyonoshin, Kirinowaka, Daikiho, Tououyama, and Somayama.