A new breed of Sumo wrestlers is stepping into the ring in Japan.

Once ridiculed, Japanese females are throwing their weight around the sumo ring these days. Aside from modified attire and separate weight classes, the rules are identical to professional sumo. Despite their rising profiles and achievements, females are still barred from competing in the most prestigious arena. the Kokugikan in Tokyo.

“Kokugikan has a magic all it’s own. Even the lighting is special. All women sumo wrestlers take pride in Japan’s National sport and want to compete there,” said Miku Yamanaka, Women's Sumo Lightweight Champ

Experts say that without the big arenas and lavish budget of pro sumo, women's amateur sumo remains a tiny niche of the sports universe, battling for fans, followers, and fame.