Claire Barco in a decorative sumo suit
As the countdown to today’s highly anticipated charity sumo wrestling event continues, we spoke with Claire Barco. English teacher by day, charity hero by night, she played an integral part in conceiving “Sumo on the Suzhou.” Below, she talks about sumo wrestling, the cause, how the two came together, and more.
What came first: the sumo wrestling idea or the cause?
CB: The cause. Last year with our Rocksgiving charity concert we covered all the costs of the migrant children’s scholarships for a whole year in one night. It was so great that I knew I wanted to do another event. But I wanted to support something different this time – there’s a lot of needs!
Shanghaiist: When and how did you come to conceive the idea for the charity event?
CB: This idea came about during some drunken revelry with my friends Leslie Jones and James Meiser, one of the coolest couples in town. I asked them what should be the next event, and we started talking about something in the line of Brawl on the Bund (incidentally, that’s happening this Saturday).
Where:River South Art Center, 1247 Nan Suzhou Lu near Xinzha Lu (南苏州路1247号进新闸路)
Starts: Friday, June 10th. Doors open at 7pm
Cover: 25rmb at the door (pays for one health kit) 25rmb drinks inside
One of them mentioned how great it would be to wrestle in sumo suits… and the other came up with the alliteration. Props go to them. To make it happen, you don’t know how many places we scoured across Suzhou Creek!
Shanghaiist: Why did you choose to contribute to this particular cause of helping kids in the Yunnan Province? Why is it important to raise awareness and funds for this particular issue?
CB: Why? Hrm. I guess that health kits became the project through discussions with my very good friend Josh Lange, the one point of contact for the charity CWEF in Shanghai. We both found that it was a great cause for Sumo on the Suzhou, mainly because it’s so simple; soap, toothpaste, and toothbrushes.
But the effect is so far-reaching. These kids learn basic hygiene, and so their parents learn basic hygiene…and everyone lives healthier lives and the parents don’t have to choose between food and medication for a disease that’s easy to prevent.
What is CWEF?
CB: The Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation is a Hong Kong based non-profit that works to improve the lives of the rural poor in Asia. Elaine [Shanghaiist Editor] has worked with them basically since she was in High School here and has personally watched it, and the people it’s helped, grow up. It’s important to work with charities you trust, and CWEF has been super accountable the entire time. If you’re curious about where the money is going to, just hit them up at CWEF.org.hk.
What can we expect to see at the event?
CB: A lot! A lot of fun, a lot of sumo wrestling, a lot of music (thanks to DJ B.O.), a lot of prizes on raffle, and a lot of drinks, thanks to our drinks sponsors Absolut and Tiger. It’s going to be a fight to the floor for our wrestlers and I’m fully expecting our spectators to heckle them. We’re going for a WWF-type performance. Expect ridiculousness at every turn.
How will the raised funds be utilized to help the cause?
CB: That’s the best part. The fighters all donated six health kits. Entrance is 25rmb, which will directly buy one health kit. Since this is a Sumo event, thus making us deeply indebted to Japan for this really neat sport, we will be donating 10% of the profits from the bar to the Japanese Red Cross Earthquake Fund. The rest goes to buy more health kits.
Is there a chance for people who didn’t sign up in time to still sumo wrestle?
CB: Time willing, yes! If all the wrestling gets you excited and there’s enough time for it, we’ll try to hold another round of competitions. Just get your friends ready to sponsor you (or sponsor yourself) for 150rmb. That’s five health kits!
MORE ON SUMO ON THE SUZHOU
The Sumo Prizes You Can Win
Interview by Esther Kang