How to make it big in women's sumo… eat 5,000 calories a day
There aren’t too many women who reach their sporting peak by eating takeaways and fried chicken – and tipping the scales at a mighty 32 stone.
But then there aren’t too many women who take up sumo wrestling.
In fact, the British female ‘team’ currently has just one member – 6ft mother of three Sharran Alexander.
Golden girl: Sharran Alexander is Britain's only female sumo wrestler and has won medals across the globe since she started competing six years ago
Size matters in sumo: Sharran Alexander weighs in at 32 stone and six feet tall
Reaching for success: Alexander pictured with her friend Jack McKay
Since 46-year-old Miss Alexander, of London, began competing six years ago, she has won gold medals across the globe.
But so low-profile is her sport in the UK that there is no official support and she is forced to go to competitions alone.
And she relies on friends to keep her company as she trains – which involves building stamina by swimming and walking. Not to mention eating 5,000 calories a day of her favourite Caribbean food (the recommended intake for women is 2,000).
Weigh to go: Alexander pictured with her friend Mary Arca. Alexander says wrestling has given her fresh confidence to look for love
Miss Alexander, who also works as a childminder, first joined the British sumo team for a television show to find four women to compete in the World Championships.
But being the only one left hasn’t dented her enthusiasm. After her marriage broke up eight years ago, she says wrestling has given her fresh confidence to look for love: ‘I used to be ashamed of my size. But after taking up sumo I learned to love my body.’
She added: 'I love being tall but when you’re trying to start a relationship it’s the hardest thing to find someone who’s taller than me.
'When I’m with a man who is smaller than me I don’t feel like I’m the woman I want to be.
'When I go out with friends I get chatted up by younger men who love big women.
'I really love the attention.'
In January Sharran will travel to Japan to train with the Japanese women’s sumo team.
Popular: Alexander says she's often chatted up by men when she goes out