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Sumotalk.com was founded by Kenji Heilman and Mike Wesemann in November, 2002.  Kenji and Mike first met in Japan in the summer of 1994 when both began new jobs working for the government in Fukuoka Prefecture.  The two became fast friends based upon a common interest: a love of sports, particularly sumo.  Kenji and Mike worked for three years in Fukuoka enjoying great food, the local onsen, and of course talking sumo.  The discussed many of the intricacies of sumo including their favorite rikishi, the oyakata who provided the best analysis on the NHK broadcast and Sumo Digest, and details of stable visits during the Kyushu basho.  Despite the wealth of analysis and insight provided in the Japanese press and by the Oyakata themselves, Kenji and Mike both noticed a lack of any insightful information regarding sumo in the English language that was provided in a timely matter.  The internet had yet to come into fruition then, and the SumoWorld magazine--a publication admired by both Kenji and Mike--was not available until well after the basho ended.  Daily sumo reports by the English newspapers in Japan lacked any depth or insight, and the English announcers on NHK's BS2 broadcast had trouble pronouncing the rikishi's names correctly let alone providing any information beyond of what was really occurring in the ring.

Kenji and Mike left Japan in 1997 but still continued to communicate via email with the content focusing primarily on sumo.  Each would send the other a pre-basho report, comments during the basho, and then a roundtable report after the basho ended.  Over time, Kenji and Mike realized that there had to be thousands of other sumo fans like them who fell in love with the sport while living in Japan and who wanted more information in the English language than was readily available.  The idea of Sumotalk was hatched and briefly discussed several years prior to its inception, and when a few breaks fell Kenji and Mike's way, they pounced on their idea and turned Sumotalk into a reality.  Sumotalk was initially targeted to English speakers living in Japan who had access to the live sumo bouts and were interested in sumo, but who couldn't understand Japanese; however, after the launch of the website, it soon became apparent that a huge underground of sumo fanatics existed all over the world.

After several years of Mike and Kenji's shouldering the burden of reporting and updating the site daily during the basho, Simon Siddall was added to the rotation for the Nagoya 2004 basho, and Sumotalk would never be quite the same after Clancy Kelly signed on in Natsu 2005.  Clancy was instrumental in pushing the site to new creative levels and helping create the current Sumotalk culture enjoyed by its readers.  A handful or contributors were added over the years from various countries culminating in the addition of Kane Roberts, the former axeman for Alice Cooper in the 80's and a solo artist in the early 90's.

The tone and style of Sumotalk has drawn criticism for its abrasiveness, arrogance, and irreverence, but the website was born from the emails of two friends who never shied away from telling it as they saw it while running a little smack and trash-talking along the way.  To our critics we say, "we talk about sumo, you talk about us," and to our fans (both of you) we say "thanks mom and dad!"



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