Exercise 1

A. Listen to a radio interview with the author of a book, Yokozuna, about sumo wrestling. Answer these questions.

 Where is Akebono from?

 Where did he become famous?

 What was unusual about him?

 What is a yokozuna?

B. Read the summary. Can you correct the underlined information?

“Akebono was born in (1) Japan. At first he was interested in (2) football. He flew to (3) Hawaii in 1988 and started practising sumo seriously. His first professional match was in (4) 1989. He became a yokozuna in (5) 1994. He was the first foreigner to achieve this in (6) 1800 years. During his thirteen years of sumo wrestling, he won the Emperor’s Cup to total of (7) 12 times. His last fight was in (8) 2000.



1   From Hawaii (USA).

2   Japan.

3   He was a foreigner.

4   (a person who has reached) the highest rank in sumo wrestling


1 Hawaii   2 basketball    3 Japan    4 1988    5 1993

6 1500   7 eleven   8 2001


PRESENTER   In the studio with me today is Hiroto Saitou, the author of a fascinating new book about sumo wrestling called Yokozuna, published by Newman Press. Hiroto Saitou, welcome.

HIROTO   Thank you.

P   What exactly does the title of your book, yokozuna, mean?

H   Well, yokozuna is the very highest rank in sumo. If you’re a yokozuna, you’re a top champion. Sometimes there are no yokozuna, and at other times there have been three or four at the same time. The name comes from the rope – called a tsuna – that the yokozuna wears. The rope can weigh up to 20 kilos but it’s not used during matches. It’s only worn before matches, during a special ceremony.

P   I see. Now, I always thought sumo wrestlers had to be Japanese, but that’s not true, is it?

H   That’s right. Traditionally, sumo is very much a Japanese sport and, for foreigners, it was very difficult to become a yokozuna. But in 1993, Akebono Taro was the first foreigner to become a yokozuna in 1500 years. He was the first non-Japanese to reach the highest rank.

P   So is that why he’s such an important person in sumo?

H   Yes, because, erm, before Akebono, nobody believed that foreigners could become yokozuna.

P   So, where’s he from?

H   Well, he was born in Hawaii. His real name is Chad Haaheo Rowan. He changed his name when he went to Japan.

P   Now, there seem to be a number of Hawaiians who are good at sumo. Why is that?

H   Well, some Hawaiians make excellent sumo wrestlers because they are big and heavy. They can put on weight quite easily. Konishiki, for example, was another successful Hawaiian wrestler, though he never became a yokozuna. The two men actually fought each other in March 1991. It was the first sumo match between two non-Japanese wrestlers and Akebono defeated Konishiki.

P   Oh. So, what was special about Akebono?

H   Well, he was an unusual success story. As a young man, he enjoyed playing basketball and he won a basketball scholarship. He also wanted to study hotel management, but then he became interested in sumo from watching it on TV. A family friend introduced him to Azumazeki Oyakata, who was also from Hawaii. Azumazeki had his own group of sumo wrestlers, which we call a ‘stable’. So in 1988, Rowan flew to Japan to join Azumazeki’s stable. There, he was given his professional name, Akebono, which means ‘new dawn’.

P   And he was extremely successful in his career, wasn’t he?

H   Yes, that’s right. His first professional appearance was in March 1988 and during his thirteen years of sumo wrestling, he won the Emperor’s Cup a total of eleven times. He retired in 2001.

P   That’s fascinating. Thank you very much for giving us an insight into this extraordinary sport.

Exercise 2

A. Listen to Renata talking about Lech Wałȩsa. Tick (✓) the things she mentions.

Solidarity     Gdańsk     communism     education     election     1995

B. Listen again. What does she say about things you ticked?

C. Now listen to Renata talking about Kraków. Tick (✓) the things she mentions.

the capital     atmosphere     industry     jazz     Warsaw     south     population

D. Listen again. What does she say about the things you ticked?



Solidarity   Gdańsk   communism   election   1995


Possible answers:

Solidarity was a workers’ organisation. Wałȩsa was the leader of it.

He worked in Gdańsk as an electrician.

He was the first president of Poland after the fall of communism.

He won the election in 1989.

He lost the election in 1995.


the capital   atmosphere   jazz   Warsaw   south   population


Possible answers:

Kraków was the capital of Poland in the past.

Artists live there, which creates a special atmosphere.

It’s the place to go to hear jazz. There are a lot of jazz clubs in the city centre.

The capital was moved to Warsaw. Warsaw is in the centre of Poland.

Kraków is in the south.

The population is less than a million.



RENATA   I think one of the most important people in Polish history, I mean recent history, is Lech Wałȩsa …


R   … who was the first president of Poland after communism. As far as I know, he was an ordinary worker, but he had a very strong character and he wanted to change the country. He became leader of a kind of workers’ organisation, I mean Solidarność.

I   That was Solidarity? The union?

R   Solidarity, yes. So he was a real leader and people followed him.

I   Do you know anything about his life?

R   Not very much. I think he was an electrician and I know that he worked in Gdańsk. I remember him from that time, but I don’t know what he did before that.

I   OK. And then he became the president?

R   Yes. Communism ended in Poland in 1989 and Wałȩsa won the election for president.

I   And how long was he president?

R   Five years? Yes, five years. And then he lost the next election in 1995.

I   Right.



RENATA   When it comes to places, I think that Kraków is very important.

INTERVIEWER   Yeah, of course.

R   You probably know it was the capital of Poland in the past. It’s a very nice city, an old city and it has a very rich history. It gets a lot of tourists but it’s also a place where artists live and that creates a special atmosphere.

 Right. Do you mean it’s an artistic place?

R   Well, yes, there’s a lot of beautiful architecture, galleries and music as well. Especially if you’re around in the evening, and you go to clubs and pubs. It’s the place to go to hear jazz.

 Is Kraków well known for jazz?

R   Yes, you can find a lot of jazz clubs in the city centre. If you enjoy listening to music and stuff, you should definitely go.

 It must have a very interesting history.

R   Yes … I don’t know much about its history. It was the capital of Poland but then the capital was moved to Warszawa, to Warsaw … but Kraków is still the art capital of Poland.

 Is it near Warsaw?

R   No. No, Warsaw is more or less in the centre of the country but Kraków is in the south.

 Ah. And how big is it?

R   It’s not very big, maybe the fourth or fifth biggest city in Poland? I don’t really know for sure, but I think the population is less than a million.


Exercise 3

A. Listen to three conversations. Answer the questions.

1   What’s the relationship between Helen and Pat, and between Helen and Luis?

2   What’s each conversation about?


Possible answers:

1   Pat is Helen’s mother. Luis is Helen’s boyfriend.


Conversation 1: Pat is going to visit Helen in Argentina. She wants to know what clothes to bring.

Conversation 2: Pat and Helen are having lunch. They’re talking about the soup Luis has made.

Conversation 3: Pat is asking Luis about his life. Luis is talking about his life (where he was born, when he moved to Argentina), and about how he loves the mountains.



PAT   I’m so looking forward to seeing you, Helen, and meeting your new boyfriend … Luis, right? But what clothes should I bring? Is it warm?

HELEN   Yes, it’s warm in the day but bring some jumpers or a jacket or something for the evenings.

P   Jumpers? Think ones, woolly ones, you mean?

H   Er, yes, maybe.

P   Like my blue one? You know the one?

H   Yes, the blue one or your red one or whatever. It doesn’t matter.


P   So, what are we having for lunch, darling?

H   Er, I’m not sure yet. Maybe some soup? (later)

P   Mmm, this soup’s absolutely delicious. Your cooking has got much better, Helen. What’s in it?

H   Oh, er, vegetables mainly. Onions, peppers, potatoes and stuff like that.

P   Right. So, you, er, chop the veg, and then what?

H   Well, I think you add water and some herbs and things … Sorry, I didn’t actually make it. Luis did.

P   Ah, OK. Well, tell him it was lovely, and I’d like the recipe! When are we seeing him again?

H   This afternoon, at three.

P   Ah.


P   So, Luis, you were born in Spain, right?

LUIS   Yes, that’s right. In Galicia.

P   Oh, yes. Where exactly?

L   Well, actually, in a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere! It was sort of surrounded by mountains. The nearest town was Ortigueira, which is on the, er, the north-west coast.

P   Oh, right. And did you stay there throughout your childhood?

L   No. We moved to Argentina, to Buenos Aires, when I was three, so I don’t really remember it at all. But I’ve always had a, a kind of special feeling about the mountains. It’s difficult to explain, but I love being able to see the mountains. It gives me a sense of space, I guess.

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