Pro Sports: Sims out to make history again

Hollister's Roy Sims competes in Saturday's U.S. Sumo Open in Long Beach.

When Roy Sims achieves success in the sport of sumo wrestling, an entire community experiences that feeling, too.
“When I walk into the circle, I’m competing for a whole tribe of people,” said Sims, who will try to repeat his performance from a year ago in Saturday’s U.S. Sumo Open in Long Beach. A year ago, Sims became the first American ever to win either the open weight or heavyweight division (Sims won the open weight and took bronze in the heavyweight class). “I have a lot riding on my shoulders. Ultimately if I win, it’s a give back and thank you to all of the people who have supported me.”
The Free Lance has chronicled Sims’ sumo wrestling career, from the beginning when he took up the sport two years ago to his historic victory at the U.S. Sumo Open in 2015. The 6-foot-5, 365-pound Sims has already qualified for two of sumo’s most prestigious events: The World Championships in Mongolia and the World Games in Poland in 2017.
The 34-year-old Sims has accomplished all of this despite not being able to train full-time like some of his competitors. Unable to find a sumo-specific trainer in the area, Sims has added judo to his training repertoire, which includes strength-training sessions at San Benito Strength in Tres Pinos.
Even without sumo-specific training, Sims feels he’s improved in the sport from a year ago.
“Realistically, I think I am better,” he said. “I understand things a little more, and I’ve gained more experience against a lot of different guys.”
With that being said, Sims said he’s still more comfortable when he can dictate the action and keep his opponents from grabbing him and his belt. When Sims can keep his competitors from grabbing his belt, he’s at a big advantage.
“Then it’s more like football, and I’m much more experienced than they are,” said Sims, a former San Benito High standout who later starred at Washburn University in Kansas. “At the same time, I’ve definitely gotten better at working the belt—that is something I’ve really tried to focus on in my last couple of training sessions.”
Sims expects to battle some familiar names of the sport for the heavyweight and open weight titles. Mongolia’s Byambajav Ulambayar and Egypt’s Ramy Elgazar are in the field, but Sims expects other competitors to be in the mix, too.
“I came out of nowhere two years ago, and someone else could do that this year,” he said. “It’s possible we’ll be the top three again, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone else come up.”
Sims has tremendous pride in being able to represent Hollister and America. He wants to fuel the growth of the sport stateside, and he’ll have a huge platform at the World Championships and World Games, which occur just once every four years.
“It’s an elite position to be in, and I’m fortunate,” he said. “Sumo is a worldwide sport, and for all of these events, I get to show up and represent our great nation.”
After winning the U.S. Sumo Open last year, the WWE got in contact with Sims and paid for his entire trip to Florida to attend a three-day training camp earlier this year. Sims wasn’t about to turn down the offer, but he realized the WWE wasn’t for him.
“I don’t think it was a good fit,” he said. “The types of movements they were doing—a lot of acrobatic type stuff—it beats you up in a whole different kind of way. I just wasn’t super into it, but it was a great opportunity. That’s why I dropped 50 pounds to look the part.”
Sims enters this year’s U.S. Open no longer an unknown. Once the hunter, Sims is now the guy everyone wants to beat. Whatever happens, Sims has been grateful for the tremendous support he’s received. Whether it’s been words of encouragement or monetary support to help him offset travel costs and tournament fees, Sims is forever thankful.
“It’s not just me in that ring—there are so many more people in that ring with me,” he said. “San Benito County has been an amazing group. And my wife (Libby) has been unbelievable. She’s my manger, making phone calls and making sure things are done right. When I win, it’s not a feeling of what I accomplished, but of what we accomplished.”

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