Mother-of-three Sharran Alexander became Guiness world record winning sumo wrestler after kids entered her for Channel 4 show
At 41, mother-of-three Sharran Alexander would never have dreamed she would spend the next six years travelling the world as a sports woman, or set a world record.
But since becoming a sumo wrestler, the registered child-minder hasn’t looked back, and last week entered the Guiness Book of Records the world’s heaviest competing sports woman.
“It has changed my life,” she says, “I’ve got a lot more confidence in who I am now, I’m a much more positive person.”
In 2006, Sharran’s children put her name down for Channel 4 show Strictly Sumo Wrestler.
She came through the challenge of 25 other competitors, and went to Japan to represent Great Britain in the world sumo championships.
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Since then, she has competed in tournaments from Thailand to Las Vegas and winning four gold medals along the way.
Now 48, she still works as a child minder and says she enjoys surprising people with her unusual hobby.
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“People can’t believe it. When you think of sumo wrestlers you think of topless men in nappies, you don’t think of me,” she says.
“I love being a sportswoman, it’s something a lot of people would think someone my age and my size would never do.
“But I want to show others what they can do. If you’re fat and you just stay at home, you’re just going to sit there and die.”
Weighing in at 32 stone in December to set the world record, she admits she had “let herself go a bit”.
“I’ve dropped 25 kilos since then,” she says, “There has already been a massive improvement in my stamina.”
Naturally polite and softly-spoken, Sharran initially found it hard to find the hostility she needed to compete in sumo tournaments.
“I wouldn’t like to teach my kids to be aggressive,” she says. “But I come up against these huge Russian and Ukranian women who really take no prisoners, so I have to find it from somewhere.”
She will end her career as a sumo wrestler in three years time when she turns 50, but looks back happily on her career.
“I’m very proud of what I’ve done, and my children told me they’re proud of me too,” she says.
“My youngest entered a sumo competition recently and came third out of 23, so maybe it runs in the family.”