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Come-from-behind winner in Japan's National Rhinoceros Beetle Sumo Championship

July 2, 2009 |  2:11 pm

Rhinoceros battle Ever heard of the National Rhinoceros Beetle Sumo Championship? Neither had we but, according to the Mainichi Daily News, last Sunday's event was a rousing success with a last-minute upset victory.

Rhinoceros beetles are a subfamily of scarab beetle, and the term rhinoceros beetle can refer to several individual species.  They're known primarily for two traits: the prominent "horns" for which they're named (only males have them, and use them to fight other males over potential mates) and their extreme strength (they can lift up to 850 times their own weight).

The sumo championship -- held in Nakayama, Japan -- pitted rhinoceros beetles against each other not in a traditional fight, but rather in a timed climbing competition. The beetles had one minute to climb a pole about two feet high; the winner of each match was the one that climbed the highest in the time allotted.

More than 400 elementary-school students participated, and the final round came down to 7-year-old Takuma Kobayashi's beetle King Kabuto and 6-year-old Shoichiro Ito's King Joe. King Kabuto seemed to have it in the bag until he abruptly took flight and left the competition area.  Naturally, that's a disqualification -- meaning King Joe was named the tweetle rhinoceros beetle battle champion. No word on whether a noodle-eating poodle was present for the festivities.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: A golofa beetle, part of the rhinoceros beetle subfamily. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

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