A while back, I explored the athletic means by which American prisoners-of-war coped with confinement in North Korea. That story popped to mind when I recently came across Bill Manbo’s color photographs of life in Japanese-American internment camps, which depict the unfortunate inmates’ efforts to inject some sense of normalcy into their daily lives. Sports was often the centerpiece of those efforts, as camp society coalesced around a regular scheduled of ultra-competitive baseball games. There also seemed to have been some volleyball and hoops in the athletic mix. But the pastime that perhaps mattered most was sumo, because its mere practice doubled as a middle finger to the machine that created the camps in the first place. Grappling wasn’t just a way to pass the time and establish some sense of community; it was a statement of bitter disagreement with the prevailing notion that Nisei had something to be ashamed of.
Another great image here. No idea how they managed to cobble together the ref’s splendid uniform.