Below is a speech for his induction on August 4, 2012, by Kelly Gneiting

My friendship with Andrew goes back a dozen years, to the first annual U.S. Sumo Open in 2001, a tournament he’s put on every year since then, and a tournament which has become one of the biggest sumo events in the world outside of Japan.

I’ve watched Andrew struggle and overcome for twelve years putting on these increasingly successful tournaments, bringing over Japanese sumo legends like Konishiki, Akebono, Musashimaru, and more.  Folks, achievements like this are rare!

But… in addition to the U.S. Sumo Open, there have been countless other tournaments and demonstrations Andrew has organized-- and countless is the applicable word.  I invite all of you to go to check out calendars of sumo events nationwide.  The majority of many dozens of events put on every year for many years have originated, and will likely yet originate, with Andrew.

These kinds of accomplishments take immense passion.  As you look out over the sea of successful and accomplished people, amidst a vast ocean of those who aren’t successful, an aspect that has always intrigued me is their motivation.  What are people’s motivations for achieving this kind of success? 

So often the answer to this question is money.

When observing athletes world-wide, you will constantly see this exchange going on—the exchange of talent, hard work, and dedication for a paycheck.  There’s nothing wrong with making a living and doing some things for money, but what has fascinated me over the years are those folks who exchange their talent, hard work, and dedication for something else… other than money, because these are folks with nothing to gain, other than the satisfaction of their service—and the perpetuation of a beauty that is bigger than themselves.

These are the people who I look up to most.  These are the people who I want to be like.  These are the people who I’d rather rub shoulders with, than a Kobe Bryant or a Barry Bonds.  Simply, these are the people who inspire me.

And I can say, unequivocally, that Andrew is one of these people.  I think most true Martial Artists are like this. 

Andrew is a brilliant, though humble man, who engages himself in a majestic, yet humble martial art—a martial art close to 2,000 years old.  A martial art in which back then, a Sumo Rikishi resembled a Samurai Warrior—a martial art that is really a battle-sport with endless ritual, legend, and splendor attached to it.

Andrew is a person who doesn’t cut corners and is never satisfied with the status quo.  He looks upon others with equality, consideration, and compassion.  And he always seems to find time to accomplish an endless agenda of items he immerses himself in—an agenda many of us have only seen bits and pieces of.

I’ve seen Andrew consult for, and appear in, television and Hollywood movies such as Oceans 13 and Memoirs of a Geisha.  I’ve seen Andrew announce at major sumo events, including professional sumo wrestling tournaments.  I’ve also witnessed Andrew as an athlete, competing as a lightweight in amateur sumo’s highest level tournament—the Olympic World Games.

As well though, I’ve seen Andrew give money to beggars in 3rd World Countries.  I’ve witnessed Andrew immerse himself in the traditions and cultures of Asian countries, and appreciate the beauty and enchantment of martial arts traditions worldwide.

This man is a trustee in the United States Sumo Federation, deservedly so; he is a sumo athlete, promoter, and tournament director; and his seen and unseen accomplishments in this sport truly make him worthy of the honor he is receiving tonight.

Yet most important to me, Andrew is a person I am truly privileged to call friend.

Thank you.


Andrew Freund Selected into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame