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Steven Achiam July 7, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Japan.
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Sumo wrestlers training, Japan 2007

Steven Achiam (b. 1976, Denmark) graduated from the Danish School of Journalism. His photo stories have been published in newspapers and magazines in The Netherlands, Italy, France, Germany, Denmark and Norway. In 2009 he followed families living with climate change in DR Congo, China, Georgia and Syria. His video shorts awarded him “TV-photographer of The Year” and the website was prized “Multimedia site of the Year” by the Danish Press Photo of the Year. In 2008 he was honored by the Unicef Photo jury for his long term book project about Sumo boys in Japan He has also won a World Press Photo Award in 2007 for his story on the living conditions of a migrant worker in the Kuwait desert. Steve is based in Copenhagen.

About the Photograph:

“Gaining confidence and being accepted are some of the reasons the boys from the Hirigaya Sumo Club practice Sumo wrestling. At age six Shunsuke is motivated to gain strength and get limber through hard training with older boys, who are both gentle and careful to help the young wrestler. Like ballet, Sumo wrestling is a niche among children’s sports in Japan. You find the strongest interest among middle class families outside the major cities, where the Sumo tradition is kept alive. 50,000 boys between the age of 4 to 14 are introduced to Sumo wrestling by their parents. Young wrestlers usually have an average body build and although obesity is not a structured part of the training program, at a later point being obese comes as a slight advantage. The old Japanese see Sumo as a school of life while the modern Japanese turn their eyes to baseball.”

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