Three central Arkansas business professionals will square off against three professional sumos in the state's first, if lopsided, sumo wrestling exhibition on March 3 at Bank OZK Arena.
Banker Don Gooch, radio personality Roger Scott and magazine publisher Heather Baker will face the world's heaviest sumo and two other pro wrestlers as part of "Sumo! Sumo! Sumo!"
Gooch, who is the regional director of Community Banks for Arvest Bank, said he is excited to go in the ring.
"Just to kind of see these guys and the massive size that they are and kind of interact with them a little bit, I think it'll be exciting," he said. "I think it'll be cool to appeal the power -- unless all the power's just overwhelming me into submission, which I guess maybe it will, but who knows? We'll see."
During a trip to Japan with the Sister City program, Gooch had the opportunity to watch sumo wrestling. He said that while he is "a fairly big guy," he knows it will be a one-sided decision.
"I am under no illusions that he's got greater strength, greater experience," he said with a laugh. "But I feel lucky, from time to time, but I think I would need a lot of luck to be able to move him a centimeter. Hopefully, he knows it's an exhibition, and he won't squash me. But I want it to be kind of a fun spectacle."
Gooch, who will enter the ring under the moniker "Little G," said he hopes to last at least a few seconds.
"You try to ride a bull for six seconds, seven seconds or something like that?" he said. "I mean, I don't know. If I make it that long, I think it'd be phenomenal. ... But make no mistake, Little G will be there, and he will be excited about it."
Baker is president and publisher at AY Media Group, a statewide multimedia firm that publishes "AY About You" and "Arkansas Money & Politics" magazines, and she said she is ready for the event.
"I've got my sumo suit," she said. "I've got my hairstyle ready to go. But I did get very good clarification ahead of time that he does this with kids for charity as well. So I'm going to pretend that he's going to think I'm a kid, and he can be very gentle with me."
The partnership between Hot Springs and Japan will be celebrated during the event, Baker said.
"I think it'll be fun for the community and the state," she said. "I'm so glad that Hot Springs has this partnership with Japan and just the community development that it's going to bring (is great). I think it will be so much fun, but I've been assured that he's going to be very gentle with me. But hopefully, because I am slower than him I can run faster, right?"
Scott, who graduated from Hot Springs High School in 1982 and is best known as one of the morning crew on "Morning Mayhem" on 103.7 The Buzz in Little Rock, was not available for comment at presstime.
"This is going to be a great fun event for the entire family," Visit Hot Springs CEO Steve Arrison said in the release. "It's the first time this type of entertainment has been featured in Arkansas, and is sure to be enjoyed by everyone."
Tickets for the exhibition are $30 for adults and $15 for children 12 and younger, and floor seating is $50 per ticket. Tickets are available at:
Gooch, Baker and Scott will face off against Hiroki, Ramy and Mendee, all professional wrestlers from Japan. Hiroki, who is the heaviest sumo in the world and was featured in the movie "John Wick 4" with Keanu Reaves, stands 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs in at 580 pounds.
Ramy, at 6-4 and 500 pounds, and Mendee, who "weighs only 330 pounds and stands 5 feet 10 inches tall," round out the trio participating in the sumo exhibition.
The event is being held in conjunction with two other events that celebrate Japanese culture -- Hot Springs' Seventh Annual Arkansas Cherry Blossom Festival and the Fourth Annual American Craft Sake Festival.
The Cherry Blossom Festival, which is sponsored by the Hot Springs National Park Sister City Foundation, is set for 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on March 3. The festival will be held in the Hot Springs Convention Center, 134 Convention Blvd., and is a "family-friendly event with something for all ages. General admission will be free," a news release said.
Origami Sake Brewery, which is located in Hot Springs, will be hosting the American Craft Sake Festival Feb. 29 through March 3 in the Bridge Street Entertainment District. This is the first time the festival has been held in the Spa City.