The true reason behind the popularity of Czech sumo is Poriz. He works hard to recruit new wrestlers, attending sports events, watching for kids who look tough. He works the phones, reminding wrestlers of practices and tournaments. And he finances wrestlers' expenses to tournaments out of his own pocket.

Most European countries that have sumo aren't really enthusiastic, Poriz says, until it becomes an Olympic sport, and then they will benefit from government funding. The Czechs do sumo at the amateur level, without any government sponsorship, only because of Poriz's enthusiasm.

Poriz first saw sumo in the 1980s, while growing up with his family in the Czech Republic. His father returned from a business trip to Japan and brought back a videotape of sumo wrestling.

"To me it was sort of like the cartoons - out of this world. These huge guys hitting each other, like monsters, or dragons. But I didn't think of doing sumo. It was entertaining."

Poriz later attended John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, and befriended a Japanese exchange student whose uncle was a former sumo wrestler. His friend mentioned he should try sumo, so Poriz started checking out sumo magazines and videos.

"I really started seeing sumo, and thinking, Hey, this is interesting. It's not just like the fat guy wins. It's really intense," he says. After school, he returned to the Czech Republic, discovered there was European amateur sumo, and started the Czech Sumo Union in 1997. He found a Japanese ex-sumo wrestler to coach a team, and they went to the European World Championships. He placed fifth.

"It was unbelievable," he remembers. "I had two months of practice! We had nothing, we had no club, we just practiced outside on the lawn Friday afternoons after work."