President Donald Trump watched sumo wrestling with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday. Trump, who is on a four-day state visit to Japan, presented a huge custom-made trophy to the winner.
Trump said he’d always found the sport “fascinating” where only nearly naked wrestlers grapple on a raised sand ring.
Before the leaders and their wives sat down for dinner at hibachi restaurant, Trump told reporters that he always wanted to see sumo wrestling and that it was an “incredible evening.”
There were security concerns over Trump’s visit to the bout with almost an eighth of the 11,000 seats in the legendary Kokugigan sumo venue, including some of the most expensive were reserved for the US President, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and their security teams. Fans were forced to pass through metal detectors and the traditional throwing of cushion to mark an exciting round was prohibited.
At the end of the match, Trump stepped into the ring and presented the eagle-topped “President’s Cup” to the champion wrestler Asanoyama, making him the first American president to participate. Shoes are not permitted in the sumo ring, but Trump wore dark-colored slippers.
Mr. Trump is not the first Western dignitary to award a Grand Tournament prize.
Former French President Jacques Chirac, who was known as an avid sumo fan, created the President of the Republic of France cup and presented the trophy to the winning wrestler in 2000. It was presented every year until Nicolas Sarkozy took office.