The girl from the Saratov region used to be a typical overweight schoolgirl, a frequent target of mockery in her school. She would be regularly exempt from physical education because her teachers were afraid to put too much pressure on her heart. But those schooldays are long gone. Katya recently beat a Japanese contestant in the finals of the world sumo championship.
What kind of appreciation did you get for your latest victory?
I received around $2,000 in prize money for winning the championship. Some people might think that my prize money could buy me an apartment in Moscow. Unfortunately, the money was not that big. I still live in my hometown of Balashov. You can spot me behind the counter at a local market when I’m not out on my training sessions. My family had a small farm for growing seedlings. Well, I help them sell the stuff.
Being a sumoist in Japan does honor to an athlete. I was pleasantly surprised at an offer by a local airline while traveling across Japan. They suggested that I use a comfortable seat which is designed for the persons of great weight. And it wasn’t extra; I paid a regular ticket for that flight. Things are more difficult in Russia when it comes to transport. I’m really happy now that I’ve bought a car on credit recently. Now I don’t have to squeeze myself into a crowded bus. A person of large build can afford nice clothes or pleasure trips provided that money is on hand.
These days women are trying to catch up with men in all areas of the human activities. But do you really have to be involved in this kind of sport for the lumbering bulky guys?
Can you tell me what kind of sport befits a woman who is really built? It would be ridiculous if I did gymnastics or applied for a dance school. I wouldn’t like to push men aside or prove them anything either. Every person should focus on things he’s good at. You got the wrong idea if you see the female sumoists as crude and mannish. We are the tender creatures. I’d really love to make people change their attitudes toward a large physique and beauty, which are pretty compatible, as far as I’m concerned.
It sounds like a rather bold statement for millions of women who are ready to try anything for slimming down
I can understand the way those women feel. I used to have lots of complexes about my weight. I went to a wrestling school for seven years; I tried all sorts of diets too. All my attempts to lose weight failed in the end. I seem to have a genetically inherited predisposition to being a big girl. So I kind of resigned myself to the situation. Now I dream of losing about 20 kilos to relieve pressure on my knee joints. By the way, some people are under the impression that sumo is a sport for the fat ones. This is wrong. You can see girls weighing 50 kilos at a competition. I also know some girls who made quite an effort trying to gain weight yet they failed.
They probably opted on the wrong kind of diet. Do sumoists use any special diets?
The Japanese feed themselves for the purpose using special diets comprising rice, caviar and other foods rich in protein. There’s nothing special about food we eat on a daily basis. Your weight is not a guarantee of good performance. First off, a sumoist should have plenty of physical strength and endurance, not to mention the ability to flex his body well.
Do you happen to think about getting married someday?
A guy proposed to me for the first time when I was 17. He was a Bulgarian. We met while I took part in my first international tournament. He said he was crazy about me. He was ready to meet my parents. But his proposal made me laugh, for some reasons. I had my doubts that I could really take anybody’s fancy. We haven’t seen each other ever since. Now I’ve got lots of friends. I don’t have a boyfriend yet. My search goes on.
Translated by Guerman Grachev