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Two Dead After Tornado Rips Through El Reno, Oklahoma; 8.0 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Peru; Trumps & Abes Watch Sumo Match During State Visit; Sanders Returns to the Roots of His Revolution in Vermont Rally; Judge Suspended After Making Anti-Trump Remarks; President Trump Awards "President's Cup" to Sumo Champion. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired May 26, 2019 - 07:00   ET



[07:00:22] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: The breaking news overnight, two people are dead after a tornado tore through El Reno, Oklahoma.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: This hit in the middle of the night when people were sleeping. I mean, they had less than a two minute warning. An entire mobile home park and hotel were destroyed. These are some of the first pictures we're getting in. You can see the slew of emergency vehicles there as well with the flashing lights. And then buildings that just look leveled.

Listen to this grandmother and her two grandchildren who describe what happened.


BRYSON GARRISON, OKLAHOMA STORM SURVIVOR: I saw like -- it turned all black, and I saw like a pinch of something flipping on top of our trailer and I felt like a big shake and I fell over next to him.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: It just got real dark real fast and everything started shaking violently.

RACHEL GARRISON, OKLAHOMA STORM SURVIVOR: After everything was over and all the shaking and jarring and everybody landing on the floor, the sirens went off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was thinking we were all going to die, we were not going to survive.

R. GARRISON: We heard screaming, children and adults both.

B. GARRISON: I was the first one out. I was walking over and I had blood on me. I had a little blood on me, but it wasn't mine, it was his.

DAMIEN GARRISON, OKLAHOMA STORM SURVIVOR: My dad looked at part of a trailer and roof of a trailer. He was scared. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm glad we were not dead. And I'm praying that

god blesses us again if it happens.


BLACKWELL: With us on the phone right now is Matt White, he is the mayor of El Reno.

Mr. Mayor, thank you for being with us. Unfortunately under these is circumstances. Now, of course life is the first priority here. You have two people who have been a killed by these tornadoes.

What do you know about other injuries to people in your community?

MAYOR MATT WHITE, EL RENO, OKLAHOMA (via telephone): Yes. There were several injuries. And a lot of different people transported to different locations, different hospitals. Our local Saints Anthony's out here in El Reno, and then also smaller communities adjacent to us, at Yukon, and Mustang. But a lot went to Oklahoma City, OU Medical.

PAUL: OK. So you have described the scene particularly at the mobile home park as horrific. Can you help us understand not only what you saw, but what is ahead for these people?

WHITE: Well, it is a lot of devastation here. It's pretty -- I mean, it is leveled. Just devastated. Tore all to pieces. It was terrible.

PAUL: Is there -- are there any mobile homes left?

WHITE: Yes, the home park itself is 88 lot park is what it is, so 88 homes in there. And we're looking at basically under 15, under 16 trailers were the ones involved in the tornado.

BLACKWELL: Can you explain for us when this tornado touched down, did you hear it? What happened at your home?

WHITE: Yes, I was home just right down the street here. It hit on the southeast side of the community. The sirens went off at 10:27. And we understand it touched down about 10:31.

PAUL: OK. Now, we had heard from people who say they got hit before the sirens even went off. Are you familiar with that? Have you heard the same thing?

WHITE: We haven't heard that. There was some people -- there were already people down in the shelter, the mobile home park had a storm shelter there. There were people there already at the time.

PAUL: Now, I know that you are an El Reno native, your family has been there for generations. There was a storm that hit El Reno six years ago. How does this compare to that?

WHITE: Well, that was the largest tornado on record when it hit six years ago. Of course, it was a wide path and it devastated our technical school and a lot of businesses out there. This is of one those ones at night, it's pitch dark, there was a motel where people are not familiar this community, and it's a little bit -- this is a lot different situation. It is a very isolated tornado that we had. But the devastation is incredible.

PAUL: All right. Mayor Matt White, thank you so much for letting us know what is happening there. I know that you are waiting for the sun to come up to better assess things and make sure everybody is all right.

[07:05:04] But thank you for taking the time to tell us and our viewers what's happening there.

WHITE: Thanks.

PAUL: Take good care.

We want to bring in CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar now as well.

BLACKWELL: Allison, what do you know about this storm? I know that we're still waiting for the surveys to begin once the sun comes up, National Weather Service will get into define where on the scale this is. But what have you learned overnight?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Right. So the first thing to note that yes, we keep talking about the El Reno tornado because there were fatalities there, but that was actually one of nine tornado reports in the blast 24 hours. Again, you can see the severe damage from Texas all the way to New York. But the real focus has been on El Reno storm.

You can see as the storms moved through there, we had very strong wind gusts, a lot of lightning with it as well. But let's break down the time line, OK? At 10:26 local time, a tornado warning was issued. One minute later at 10:27, the tornado sirens started to go off.

Two minutes later at 10:29, that is when we started to see some of the damage really start to come down as the tornado made it down to the ground. When we look at all the damage that you can see on there on the other side of your screen, a lot of this damage is consist with what we would see, which is an EF-3. Keep in mind, that was also the same rating of the El Reno tornado about six years ago.

Typically, you'll have roofs and some walls that are torn off of very well-constructed homes. You'll also have a lot of trees uprooted and heavy cars that can be lifted up off the ground and thrown several feet away. Again, we have a lot of those images and video that you're seeing there showing that.

One thing to note with this particular one, why it was so dangerous, is because it happened at night when people are sleeping. But that's not uncommon. In fact, 37 percent of all the tornadoes that Oklahoma gets are actually at night. So, it is not out of the question.

I know we heard that woman say and you've heard it before where people say we didn't hear the sirens, we heard it after it hit. Here's the thing, folks. Sirens are not meant to be heard indoors. They are meant that if you are outside, you hear the siren, you know something bad is happening and to get indoors.

So, it is very possible when they were indoors they couldn't hear it, but when they got back out or the walls were ripped off, then they could start to hear the sirens.

Victor and Christi, the threat unfortunately for today continues for places like Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and another threat zone across the mid-Atlantic and Ohio valley.

PAUL: Good heavens. All right. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Also breaking overnight, a major earthquake in Peru, magnitude 8.0. Now, we've just gotten this video. This is from the Peru firefighter's brigade. It shows several buildings damaged. It is tough to see because it is only 6:07 there and there is glass and bricks and metal in the streets there.

PAUL: This earthquake was about 70 miles deep we're told. But you can see, though, the damage, the people, the emergency crews that are out trying to help them. People say that the shaking, they felt it throughout the country.

So far, no injuries or fatalities being reported which is the good news. But we're going to continue to watch this and give you the latest as we get more in. It's a very fluid situation.

And now to the second day of President Trump's state visit to Japan. He and the first lady accompanying Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife to the sumo grand championship in Tokyo. They all sat ring side together there. Take a look.

BLACKWELL: I think there is the first time there has been a sumo match on this show. I think this has made history.

PAUL: It might be. What a thing to wake up to, right?

BLACKWELL: Right. President Trump presented this huge trophy, the president's cup, to the winner. Trophy so big, you'd have to be a sumo wrestler to lift it almost.

But the president later said that he bought that beautiful trophy and he hopes it continues to be awarded for many hundreds of years, he said.

PAUL: All right.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Boris Sanchez is traveling with the president, joins us live from Tokyo.

Busy day for the president and for the prime minister. What else do they have coming up?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Victor and Christi, a busy day of bonding for the two leaders. They just turned in for the evening, finishing hibachi style dinner featuring beef and grilled chicken alongside their two partners. Previously, the president was at that sumo tournament, he got a warm

reception there handing over the president's cup, this almost 4 foot, 70-pound trophy to the grand champion, the president saying that he had always wanted to see a sumo tournament in person. He told reporters that he was having a great time.

He and Shinzo Abe had hit the links this morning playing golf together, something that they frequently do when they meet. We should point out though there is some daylight between these two leaders on key issues including security and that came to the forefront after the president tweeted this out about North Korea earlier in the day. The president writing, quote, North Korea fired off some small weapons which disturbed some of my people and others but not me. I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me.

The president then goes on to attack former Vice President Joe Biden and current presidential candidate. We won't get into that, but we should point out that the Japanese are uneasy about this relationship between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. They have correctly pointed out, as has the president's national security director, Ambassador John Bolton, that North Korea violated U.N. resolutions by testing those short range missiles last month. So, some daylight there between the president and Abe. Also on trade, the two sides still far apart. The president tweeting out that he expected that the deal will likely come at some point after July, after their elections here in Japan.

The president also talked about the main event coming tomorrow when he meets the new emperor, Emperor Naruhito. This is really big deal for the two nations, something that the president is looking forward to, and that underscores the importance of the relationship between these two world powers -- Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All righty. Thank you much so, Boris. Appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Boris.

PAUL: So a lot of people might have heard about this mail man and the tribute to him, people loved this man for so many reasons. He is retiring.

And guess what? We get to talk to him today. He's going to join us here. And we'll talk about this epic way that his neighborhood is sending him off into retirement.

BLACKWELL: Plus, that Maui hiker who was lost for two weeks says it wasn't luck that she made it out, she said she chose life over death.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People that know me, people that don't know me, all came together just under the idea of helping one person make it out of the woods alive.



[07:15:12] PAUL: Fourteen minutes past the hour right now.

And police in Los Angeles have released videos that show this gun battle between a man and an officer. This is something that happened in April. The officer and suspect did survive, but I just want to give you a heads up. This is going to be disturbing for some of you to see. Take a look.

BLACKWELL: So the officer's body camera video shows him behind another officer as they chase the suspect on foot. Suddenly, you see another man come into view and then start shooting.

Now, look at this surveillance video. It gives a better view of the gunman appearing to ambush the officer. It happens moments after his partner and the original suspect they were chasing rushed by. Officer Enrique Trujillo was able to fire back. Both Trujillo and 39-year-old Curley Duff were struck but survived.

PAUL: Amanda Eller, the hiker who was lost in Maui for more than two weeks is recovering from a hospital and her doctors say they are simply shocked that she is doing so well.

BLACKWELL: They say she looks amazing even after suffering infections, sunburns, a broken shin and losing 15 pounds.

CNN's Paul Vercammen has her story.


AMANDA ELLER, MISSING HIKER RESCUED: The last 17 days of my life have been the toughest days of my life. And it has been really significant spiritual journey that I was guided on.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A voyage Amanda Eller described with her boyfriend in her hospital bed.

A. ELLER: There were times of total fear and loss and wanting to give up. And it did come down to life and death and I had to choose, and I chose life.

VERCAMMEN: Eller was spotted and hoisted out of the Maui paradise Friday.

Eller lost her shoe set out to dry in a flash flood, lost her ability to walk properly when she broke a bone in her leg. But hope was not lost.

JOHN ELLER, AMANDA ELER'S DAD: That was not expected. That was not expected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can cry now. It is awesome, man. Got a good memorial day now.

J. ELLER: Oh, no, I was bawling like a baby. A. ELLER: The way that the community of Maui came together, people

that know me, people that don't know me, all came together just under the idea of helping one person make it out of the woods alive. Just warms my heart.

VERCAMMEN: This yoga instructor and physical therapist shed almost a pound a day for each day she went missing, 15 total. Her doctor expressed surprise and relief at how well she looked.

DR. ZORA BULATOVIC, AMANDA ELLER'S PHYSICIAN: Tears came down because we all have been following her story.

VERCAMMEN: This physician explained how the model patient survived on river water and what food she could pick.

BULATOVIC: Eating fresh fruits from the trees, trying to keep her nutrition up. So she was very well-educated in that and she knew exactly what to take and managed to stay well-hydrated.

JULIA ELLER, AMANDA ELLER'S MOM: She is a trooper, man, a real warrior. I had no doubt if anybody could make it through it, it was her.

VERCAMMEN: Amanda Eller fought for her life and won, armed with undying spirit and true grit.

Paul Vercammen, CNN, Los Angeles.


BLACKWELL: Great story there.

All right. Still ahead, the judge who suspended because of what he said about President Trump.

PAUL: And Bernie Sanders returns to the familiar turf of his home state playing up the roots of his revolution.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a government that reins in the uncontrollable greed of the billionaire class and the power of the special interests.



[07:22:50] BLACKWELL: While on his trip to Japan, President Trump responded to a setback in federal court Friday. A federal judge blocked him from tapping Defense Department funds to build parts of his U.S.-Mexico border wall.

PAUL: In a tweet the president called it a ruling against border security in favor of crime, drugs and human trafficking and he called the federal judge, quote, an activist Obama appointed judge. He said his administration is appealing the ruling by the way.

And in a rally in his home state, Bernie Sanders went back to his roots. He thanked his supporters, he highlighted the struggle of working families across the country, and he called out the wealthy family behind Walmart.

BLACKWELL: The rally comes as Sanders is trying to maintain his runner up status to Joe Biden in the Democratic primary field.

Here is CNN Washington correspondent Ryan nobles.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Senator Bernie Sanders is back here in Vermont, a homecoming rally where he talked about the reasons that he's running for president of the United States, and he did it here in Montpelier because he harkened back to the political career that started here in the Green Mountain State. And that's where Senator Sanders talking about some of the big issues that's championed for many year, fighting against economic inequality, raising the federal minimum wage, talking about breaking up the big banks and, of course, his big signature issue of health care to all Americans.

And the reason that he did it here in Vermont is that's because where he believes his political revolution began. Sanders ran for office here as an independent candidate for more than 10 years before finally being elected the mayor of Burlington, a race he won by only ten votes. And what he is selling to Democratic primary voters is a message of consistency. The positions that he held back then in Vermont are the same positions that he holds now as candidate for president.

And Sanders also talked about the effort that he's making on behalf of workers. In fact in the coming weeks, he's going to head to Arkansas to represent Walmart workers as they participate in a shareholders' meeting. Sanders is saying that he is hoping to send a message to the Walton family.

SANDERS: The Walton family of Walmart, this is a family that is worth $175 billion.

[07:25:04] They are doing well. Meanwhile, this very same family that owns Walmart pays its workers wages that are so low that many of those employees are forced to go on government programs like Medicaid, food stamps and public housing.

In other words, working families, you here in Vermont and throughout this country, are paying extra taxes to subsidize the wealthiest family in this country. How insane is that?

NOBLES: This is a trend for Sanders where he is serving as a representative for the workers of some of these big corporations. He did this during a video conference call with McDonald's recently. What he would like to see is improved working conditions, not just more pay. He would like to see Walmart raise their lowest pay structure to $15 an hour. But he is also asking for improved conditions. He also wants better opportunities for them when it comes to reporting sexual harassment claims.

This is one of the bedrocks of the Sanders campaign, that is why he made it a big part of the speech which got plenty of attention here in Vermont. Sanders hoping that this message of his political rise in this relatively small state is something that can transfer to the highest office in the land.

Ryan nobles, CNN, Montpelier, Vermont.


PAUL: Ryan, thank you.

Well, next, a Utah judge is suspended for six months without pay because of something that he said about President Trump.

BLACKWELL: And the comedy special that is bigger than both sides. Colin Quinn, red state blue state premieres tomorrow 9:00 on CNN. Here is a look.


COLIN QUINN, COMEDIAN: Here is a radical idea. We start to look at ourselves. Take some responsibility. We have people doing shit for us, we should be doing it for ourselves most of the time anyway. Can you hold this for me for a second?


We look in the mirror and see ourselves as we really are. And realize most of what everybody says about each other is true. The right can be a little racist, left can be a little fascist, and you can tell the Christians by their guns and liberals by the hatred of free speech.

Is this what we're supposed to look? Is this what we really are? Let's honestly look at all 50 states and see what we've become. Let's review.

We'll start with the Northeast. Let's start with Massachusetts. Once the home of Sam Adams. Dumping tea into Boston harbor. Now the home of Fenway fans dumping Sam Adams on Yankee outfielders heads.


BLACKWELL: Be sure to watch the CNN original series special presentation "Red State Blue State", it premieres tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.


[07:31:49] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Thirty-one minutes past the hour right now.

Well, the state Supreme Court in Utah has suspended a judge for six months without pay. Why? Well, because of things that he said about President Trump. Judge Michael Kwan has been on the bench in the town of Taylorsville outside Salt Lake City for about 20 years.

According to the "Washington Post," when a defendant who owed court fines said he could pay them off when he got his tax refund, the judge said if you think you're going to get taxes back this year, yeah, maybe, maybe not, but don't worry, there is a tax cut for the wealthy. So if you make over $500,000, you're getting a tax cut, unquote. The judge later wrote: Welcome to the beginning of the fascist takeover. He wondered if Republicans in Congress would be, quote, the American Reichstag.

Former U.S. attorney Michael Moore with us now.

Suspension the right thing to do here?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: It probably is. Look, there are plenty of things to criticize the president about, but you don't expect it from a judge. And really that is in part because we want them to have some appearance of impartiality, we want them to appear fair.

PAUL: Yes, there is a concern that he's going to bring bias into the cases there.

MOORE: Absolutely, yes. I'm not here to champion whether or not Trump may deserve some criticism. I'll just tell you that in this instance, it looked to me like the judge was over the line, probably well deserved that he got a suspension.

PAUL: Well, and in the past, he also had choice words apparently for former President Bill Clinton in regards to sexual impropriety.

MOORE: Right. Well -- and judges don't give the right to have an opinion. What they do is sort of agree when they take on that black robe, that they're going to set that aside and not use the voice that they have as a judge to make that voice louder. That they can kind of keep the comments to themselves. So, they don't lose the right to have --

PAUL: First Amendment. Some people will argue, listen, he has the right to say what he wants to say. Is it that he said it in the courtroom, is that the real issue?

MOORE: I think what it is is that he made a comment that was against the judicial canons where it looks like he is making political speech. Maybe you are a Trump supporter and you appear in front of him, you will feel like you weren't treated fairly because this judge had bad feelings about Trump, or maybe at the time if you were a Bill Clinton supporter, he made those comments so you feel like he didn't treat me right because I'm a Bill Clinton supporter. And that's not what we want.

Our system works because people have to have confidence in the system. They have to believe in the fairness and impartiality of the judiciary. We operate a lot on appearance of conflict, and the perception of impartiality, and that's important to sort of make our system work.

PAUL: So, is he going to be under heightened scrutiny once he gets back in the courtroom?

MOORE: I would think so. The particular court he sevens this is sort of a misdemeanor court. It means that they see things like traffic offenses, stuff that we would see here, smaller claims.

PAUL: So he is not adjudicating murder cases.

MOORE: He is not deciding constitutional issues. But it looks like based on things that came out that he has had a history of some comments and activity that maybe wasn't the best -- where he didn't use his best judgment. So I think that is probably why he ends up here.

PAUL: All right. Sounds good. Michael Moore, thank you.

[07:35:00] MOORE: So glad to be with you.

PAUL: Good to see you.

MOORE: Good to see you.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, President Trump has awarded the President's cup to a sumo champion on the sacred mound in Tokyo. What is the sacred mound? And really what are the rules of what we're watching right now?

PAUL: We have two sumo wrestlers who will explain all of to us.


PAUL: Thirty-nine minutes past the hour.

And President Trump has now awarded the President's Cup to the winner of the Tokyo sumo wrestling tournament.

BLACKWELL: So, the president and the first lady had a ring side view. I don't even know if it's a ring.

PAUL: Is it a ring?

BLACKWELL: I guess. We'll find at the moment for the action with the president --

PAUL: It's a platform.

BLACKWELL: -- prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife. They watched several rounds and in a break with tradition sit in chairs instead of on the floor.

PAUL: And then the president presented to the winner.

[19:40:03] It's on the secret mound, is what it's called. Secret mound. BLACKWELL: Yes.

PAUL: And he had the four and a half foot trophy especially made for the event. It weighs over 60 pounds.

Joining us now to talk about the history and traditions of sumo wrestling and the significance of this, sumo wrestlers Ed Suczewski and Helen Delpopolo.

Good to have both of you with us this morning.

ED SUCZEWSKI, SUMO WRESTLER: Thanks for having us.


BLACKWELL: So, Ed, let me start with you because the president said that he has always wanted to see a live sumo wrestling match. Take us inside that room, the energy and excitement that we saw there.

I mean, I think most people haven't seen a live sumo wrestling match. What is it like?

SUCZEWSKI: It is really incredible. I think the one thing about sumo wrestling that is different is that the whole match takes place inside of maybe a six to eight-second window. And so you take all that intensity of a boxing match or MMA match and you condense it down to six, eight seconds, it is a pretty intense experience.

PAUL: Helen, and what is it like for women in this sport?

DELPOPOLO: It is incredible. I mean, women have been welcomed into sumo for about the past 15 years.

And it is absolutely been incredible. They compete on the world stage. Sometimes we train with the men.

You know, only difference is that we wear some type of clothing to cover us up. But it is the same thing, you have about six seconds. There is no -- settings don't matter. It can be anyone's day. Anyone can be champ.

PAUL: So, Helen, so you answered my next question. Because I was wondering what do women wear? I'm quite certain they don't go out in the same uniforms?

BLACKWELL: I was today years old when I learned that there were women sumo wrestlers.

PAUL: Me too. Today years old, I like that.

BLACKWELL: So, this is the first time.

So, let me ask you, Helen, the president from the Oval Office said when he conversed with the prime minister that this is 100 times important than the Super Bowl that he watched there. Discuss for us the significance of sumo wrestling in the Japanese culture. DELPOPOLO: I would say it is part of their history. It is one of the

oldest sports, organized sports in the world. It dates back like 1400, 1500 years. So it has the traditional aspects. It has religion involved in Japan.

It is about having -- go ahead.

SUCZEWSKI: I think it is a sport that has been around a really long time. It is kind of amazing. It transports you back in time. When you are training in Japan and you look around and you see just these guys covered in sand and sweat and blood, and there is no modern training equipment around or anything like that, you know, it feels as if you are back in the eighth century, ninth century.

And watching sumo wrestling is a lot like that. If you look back at footage from the '40s, it looks pretty of the same as it looks today except that it is not in black and white anymore. So it is a way of preserving the old ways, preserving Japanese culture and connecting us to something kind of ancient and primal in human beings.

BLACKWELL: So President Trump is no stranger to wrestling, a different type of wrestling. WWE here. For a reminder for people, let's take a look here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a takeover of Donald Trump!


BLACKWELL: So, that's the president shaving Vince McMahon, which really isn't part of the sport.

But is there any overlap here between traditional American wrestling and sumo wrestling? Anyway that they are comparable?

DELPOPOLO: The only way they are comparable is by the excitement of the fans. You know, in WWE, it is completely staged. They use props. And they know the outcome of it before you actually wrestle. The people in the back end.

But when you do sumo on the world level, the professional level in Japan, all over the world, you don't know who will win. It is not staged whatsoever. Yes, only thing that can be considered I guess is just the fans' excitement and that anything can happen.

SUCZEWSKI: You know, one of the biggest differences with sumo is that any sort of show of emotion is really frowned upon. So you don't see guys pumping their fists are on even smiling after a match. You bow to your opponent, show respect and you step down. So, a lot of that showmanship at the professional wrestling world really doesn't apply to sumo.

PAUL: I have to ask you, when you are getting in that position and you're getting ready to wrestle, are you scared? SUCZEWSKI: You know, to be honest, you go through a lot of routines

in preparing for these kinds of matches and you get used to getting your mind right. So, yes, if you are away from sumo for a couple months and you come back to it, you're going to be a little scared. But by the time you step into the competition ring, you go through some routines, some mantras that you repeat to yourself.

[07:45:07] And fear doesn't really factor in, to be honest. It's just excitement.

DELPOPOLO: You don't have enough time to have fear, because it is over like that. So you just have to go the way you take off in a sumo match is I'd say about 80 percent a chance of whether you're going to win or not, that takeoff. So you have to be mentally prepared.

Before they takeoff, you do have a moment where you squat down, you release any energy that you have, you can put your head down, look at your opponent, just get all of that out of you before you actually fight.

BLACKWELL: Well, it was one of the highlights of the president's trip to Japan.

Ed Suczewski and Helen Delpopolo, thank you both for helping us understand sumo wrestling a little better.

DELPOPOLO: Thank you so much.

SUCZEWSKI: Thanks for having us on. Appreciate it.

PAUL: Absolutely. Take good care.

DELPOPOLO: Thank you. You too.


PAUL: You know, for nearly 35 years, mail man Floyd Martin has done more than just deliver letters. He's gone the extra mile for the people on his route.

BLACKWELL: And now, they have done the same for him with an epic retirement sendoff. He is joining us. He's here in the studio to talk about this incredible gesture.


[07:50:06] PAUL: So, it's the sweetest story of the weeks. It starts with a tweet. It's about mailman Floyd Martin and his last deliver route.

BLACKWELL: So, Jennifer Martin of "The Atlanta Journal Constitution" opened a Twitter thread with this on Wednesday. Floyd Martin retires after nearly 35 years as a mailman tomorrow. I went with him on his tour today.

And several tweets later, he realized Martin did much more than delivers letters.

PAUL: This is a man who shares a hug with kids. He checks in on the elderly. He's even popular with the pets, who gets tweets, by the way, when he delivers mail.

BLACKWELL: And that reporter's name is Jennifer Brett, by the way.

So, when the neighborhood in Marietta, Georgia, heard he was retiring, they went big. They decorated the mailboxes you see it here and stopped to deliver a gift or a hug on his last route. But the display of gratitude did not end there. Once his last shift was over, more than 300 people show up at a block party in his honor.

Of course, the story went viral, in hours. And the Internet had one more surprise for him, funding his dream trip to Hawaii.

PAUL: He's still basking with all of it, but he's here with us today. Retired mailman Floyd Martin.

Fully retired now?


PAUL: I heard you say in terms of delivering mail for 45 years, you said you have not learned to sleep in yet.

MARTIN: No, I was up at 3:30 this morning.

PAUL: This morning. Is that what time you normally were up?

MARTIN: Normally, 5:00. But I was thinking of this interview and 3:30 I am up making coffee.

PAUL: So, when you got the first mailbox that was delivered and you realize it was for you, tell me about that moment.

MARTIN: I broke down and cry.

PAUL: What was it about all of them and you went from one to the next and the next.

MARTIN: It was about love. I had accomplished what I wanted to. I did it right.

BLACKWELL: What did you want to accomplish?

MARTIN: I want to be the best I could as a mailman. You know, I want them to provide them with the service. I wanted them o be able to depend on me. And I ended up being friends and family with them.

PAUL: There was report that children know you're good for lollipop.


PAUL: That you would bring mail inside and you actually visit with people. You would bring them and walk the mail into the door for some of your elderly client. There is a young girl that dressed as you for career day.

When talk about being a mailman, that's beyond what most people know as a mailman. What is it that made you say you need to go above and beyond?

MARTIN: That's me, I put me into my job. I put my whole being (ph) to it. The things I did was just part of who I was.

BLACKWELL: So, nearly 35 years with the postal service but almost 30 in this neighborhood.


BLACKWELL: So, we were talking during the break that you saw new couples move in and start their families and they have children.


BLACKWELL: So, what will it be like that first day you don't go back to see these families?

MARTIN: But, I will go back. We were more than customer-mailman, we are customer-friend. We were like family. They treated me like family. They invited me to holiday dinners, they took care of me.

PAUL: I was going to say, we know from everything they have said and all the tweets out there of what you were to them. Really at the end of the day, what were they to you? They were your family.

MARTIN: They were my life for 30 years. You know, that was the reason I went to work to serve them and be with them, interact with them. They were family.

BLACKWELL: Tell me about the block party.

MARTIN: The block party was amazing. It was epic. Sarah Burlington, I love you. Becky Bishop, I know others were involved but it was amazing. It was amazing.

BLACKWELL: More tears, I could imagine.


MARTIN: Man, I walked through and they immediately started applauding and screaming and whistling. I practically lost it, but I held it together. But I had moments. You know, hugging people and saying good-bye, it wasn't easy.

PAUL: I think what's remarkable how above and beyond this story has gone, beyond the parameter of these people that you serve. There were somebody on Twitter, Sloan Stevenson who wrote: The world could use more people like Floyd Martin.

Another person wrote, may we all be loved as much as Floyd Martin does. [07:55:01] May we all be loved and appreciated at work as much as

Floyd Martin has been. May we all blessed with neighbors like this. May we all be neighbors like this.

MARTIN: I never knew I had an impact on people. I was just being me. But I impacted a lot of people and even more people with, and that is overwhelming. I am just joyous, I am filled with joy.

PAUL: So, they have created this GoFundMe page to get you to your dream trip, Hawaii.


PAUL: Thirty thousand dollars already have been raised. What are you going to do with $30,000? Take it.

MARTIN: Bank it. Bank it because Delta is paying fully the trip. So --

PAUL: They're paying for your flight, right?

MARTIN: Yes. They saw the story and wanted to fly me to Hawaii.

PAUL: Why Hawaii?

MARTIN: I always wanted to go there. It is a beautiful place. I have seen pictures and I want to experience Hawaii.



BLACKWELL: Well, Floyd Martin, thank you so much for not just coming in but for everything you have done for that community for so long, and just being a great example.

MARTIN: Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: And enjoy Hawaii.

MARTIN: I will.

BLACKWELL: We want pictures. I don't know if you tweet, but post them up. We want to see them.


PAUL: We want updates.

MARTIN: Sure, yes.

PAUL: Absolutely. Thank you so much.

MARTIN: Thank your having me.

PAUL: Human kindness all the way around. MARTIN: Love is love.

PAUL: Thank you so much, Floyd. Best of luck to you.

MARTIN: Thank you so much.

PAUL: And thank you so much for starting your morning with us. We hope you have a safe memorial holiday. Make some good friends -- get make some good friends with your family and friends.

BLACKWELL: "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King is up after a quick break.