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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 19:20 GMT
Women battle for sumo recognition
Jackie Bates, sumo wrestler
The Sumo World Cup takes place in Japan in October
A pair of Derby-based women are battling to join the top female sumo wrestlers at a tournament in Japan.

The sport, a male bastion which began as a Shinto ritual in Japan about 1,500 years ago, only recently opened up its ranks to women.

But Jackie Bates, 50, who weighs 20 stone (280 lbs) has already won a silver medal and aims to win more.

"It is supposed to be a vicious sport and takes a lot of fighting sprit and a lot of guile," she said.

Mentally tough

"It is like pushing a bus around, but it keeps me fit, keeps me on my toes and people say I look good."

Her trainer Steve 'Sumo' Pateman, who pioneered sumo wrestling in the UK, said: "Women tend to be mentally tougher than males - they are determined to win and it is the key to everything."

She trains four times a week and lifts weights to gain strength, managing up to 70kg on the bar.

"Jackie is very feminine but she can generate the aggression that she needs," Mr Pateman said.

It seems like a only a few seconds in the ring sometimes, but it gets your heart going.
Chantal Freebury, sumo wrestler
Jackie adds: "It is a very dynamic, powerful sport and that is what I like about it."

"It will take a while for the British women to reach the top - they are not as brave as the European women where there is a huge following and where there are many women who are fighting already."

Her training partner Chantal Freebury, said: "It seems like a only a few seconds in the ring sometimes, but it gets your heart going.

"It is the fitness and the enjoyment that draws me in - it is a lot of fun."

Ms Bates, who is an aerobics teacher, competed in the Sumo World Cup in 2003.

She has also fought in Japan and elsewhere in Europe and is hoping to qualify for the World Cup again in October in Japan.

Sumo wrestlers hope their sport will join the Olympics and 84 countries are now affiliated to the International Sumo Federation.

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