A gleaming black car screeches to a stop, and Poriz hops out, wearing a long leather coat, his head shaved except for a thick tuft of hair sprouting out the top. He introduces­ me to the others. The big wrestler is Jiri Kolbl,­ a scientist and former judo champion. The smaller guy is Jakub Sara, who placed at the world championships two years ago.
The Sumo Strahov clubroom is lined with wood paneling. A sumo ring, or dohyo, dominates the dirt floor, a banner reads "Czech Sumo Union 1st European Sumo Training Center." Three straw brooms lean against a wall. Poriz directs me to a chair - actually, the only chair. The guys disappear into a locker room and emerge wearing nothing but the diaper-like mawashi around their waists.

My knowledge of sumo runs as deep as the silly sumo scenes in the Austin Powers and Charlie's Angels films. It does seem that the sport won't be saturated with sponsorship anytime soon, because there's no room on the uniforms for the Nike logos. The wrestlers do some stretches and exercises, shouting phrases in Japanese that sound like, "Soo-ha!" and "Hight!"

The men take turns in practice bouts. Sara loses every time, because he weighs half as much as the others, but he's feisty and doesn't back down. Occasionally Poriz shouts instructions in Czech, something about keeping the elbows tucked in. The best matches are between Poriz and Kolbl, two enormous man-bulls slamming into each other, more than 600 total pounds of struggling and huffing flesh, until one is shoved out of the ring. All three then squat around the dohyo perimeter with eyes closed, and do a quick chant. Practice is over. Sara waters down the ring with a hose, the others grab brooms and whisk the dirt, like suburban dads casually cleaning the driveway. Poriz comes out of the showers and says to me, "Come on, let's go get some breakfast."