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Everything posted by Sasanishiki

  1. Sasanishiki


    Hi SF members, It's been a long time since I was last here - back some time in 2010 by the looks of things. I can see from a couple of threads that there are many old faces here (at least by the shikona), which is great. I fist joined in 2004 and became a Moderator here, primarily based on my interest in and knowledge of amateur sumo in Japan and around the world. I had a brief career as an amateur sumo athlete, probably from 2007-2011, with the highlight of representing my country and region at the sumo competition of the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I think I last competed in 2014, at the Oceania Sumo Championships. I completed a PhD thesis on the international spread of amateur sumo in 2009, with final completion and conferment of my doctorate in 2010. I'd already started working full time, had a young daughter, and very little time to commit to Sumo Forum or even sumo at all. Without the luxury of being able to have SF open on my computer all the time at work, like I did when I was at university, my ability to post and maintain a presence here fell away and I dropped off into inactivity. I wasn't able to easily keep up with the news basho after basho, and my links with amateur sumo became sporadic. Recently, I've been reinvigorated by John Gunning, and with my country (New Zealand) currently in a lockdown due to COVID-19 and that I only work part-time at the moment, I decided to venture in again. I look forward to getting back up to speed with what's been happening in the past decade, much of which I'll be completely ignorant about. Please forgive any naïve comments or old stories that I write. Yoroshiku, Howard
  2. Sasanishiki

    Where Are All Of The Hawaiian Rikishi?

    Mot definitely this is influential. With only one foreigner allowed per stable, the oyakata are very picky about who they choose. (Compare this with the fact that almost any Japanese youth who wants to join a heya can, even if they have no sumo background.) This means the oyakata will likely look for someone who they think will fit in culturally with the heya and so they look to Mongolians, many of whom are already in the high school and university system in Japan. Because the foreign recruits often are of excellent sumo quality, they skip through the lower ranks where all the hardship takes place. Even if they don't quickly reach juryo or Makunouchi, the life as a makushita is not bad and they tend to stick around in sumo for quite a while. By sticking around in the sport, the openings for foreign recruits are few and far between. The 2019 Sumo World Championships were moved to Sakai, Osaka. The results can be found in the Results tab at the International Sumo Federation website.
  3. Sasanishiki

    Where Are All Of The Hawaiian Rikishi?

    Kena Heffernan is working hard with young athletes in Hawaii. This article is a couple of years old, but it gives the general overview.
  4. Sasanishiki

    Funny videos and photos of rikishi at play

    I think it is two separate bouts? The gyoji appears to be wearing different colours in each clip.
  5. Sasanishiki

    Funny videos and photos of rikishi at play

    The second bout (0:32) is Takanohana defeating Akebono on Day 15, Kyushu 1994. This win secured the ozeki his second straight yusho and an automatic Yokozuna promotion, thus the huge number of zabuton being thrown. The last bout (3:11) is Byamba body slamming Kelly Gneiting at the 2013 US Sumo Open.
  6. Sasanishiki

    What a career start!

    I stumbled across the record of Haguroyama, the 36th Yokozuna, and was struck by the consecutive yusho he had in 5 tournaments to go from Jonokuchi to Jonidan, Sandanme, Makushita, Juryo and into Makunouchi. This is obviously helped by the smaller numbers of wrestlers on the banzuke in the 1930s and that the basho were only held in January and May. Nevertheless, I found it an interesting and quirky statistic.
  7. Sasanishiki

    What a career start!

    I believe they are the only two to do it. I went searching and found something that said in 2002 when Tochiazuma won his top division yusho, it meant he was the first person since Haguroyama achieved it in 1941. I don't think anyone did it before Haguroyama, but I stand to be corrected. Fairly certain that no one has done it since.
  8. Sasanishiki

    Oonokuni Discussion

    Yes, I think the NSK had to promote him to be the 62nd Yokozuna based on those 3 consecutive results at Ozeki. The criteria for promotion to Yokozuna was 1) being of outstanding character and ability, 2) winning two consecutive championships at Ozeki, 3) the YDC could recommend an appointment with consensus of a wrestler who had "an equivalent record" to winning to consecutive championships. This third condition was a loophole to allow wrestlers who, in their opinion, had produced very similar results to the criteria and for which they could all agree deserved recommendation for promotion. This loophole could be, and was, applied loosely or strictly depending on the situation (such as the nature of victories, the number of other Yokozuna on the banzuke, recent success/"failures" of Yokozuna, etc). Indeed, Futahaguro (Kitao) had been promoted to be the 60th Yokozuna after the Nagoya 1986 basho on the strength of 4 tournaments at Ozeki in which he produced 10-5, 10-5, 12-3 and 14-1 records but no championships. In the second to last of this streak, he met Chiyonofuji on the final day with them both on 12-2 and with the winner of the match to take the title. In the last basho of these four, he carried a 13-1 record into the final day and again met Chiyonofuji, who was 14-0. Kitao won the regular match to force a pay-off but succumbed to Chiyonofuji in the re-match and couldn't claim the title. Matching well against the lone Yokozuna at the time, and given that he was about to turn 23, this bright young hope was promoted to yokozuna with no tournament victories (and he would never win one, although he went to another playoff against Chiyonofuji in his 3rd basho as yokozuna). Against that yardstick, Onokuni had a better claim. Hokutoumi became the 61st Yokozuna just a few months after Futahaguro after recording an 11-4, 12-3Y and 13-2 record to start 1987. In the last tournament of this streak he went in with the possibility of forcing a playoff for the title with Onokuni but wasn't able to beat his fellow ozeki (who won the title 15-0 and started his own Yokozuna promotion run). Hokutoumi had been an ozeki for only 5 tournaments, but was recognised as having a strong future at just shy of 24 years old. Also in his favour was the yusho he had taken just over a year before when he was a sekiwake. Certainly to his advantage was that, as a stablemate of Chiyonofuji, he would not meet "The Wolf" in regular matches at basho (only playoffs), but got to hone his skills in keiko against the best of his era. Now, to me, this is the more intriguing part of the whole matter. The fourth article of the by-laws regarding Yokozuna related to their retirement, and the conditions for these were: 4) Under the following conditions, the YDC may conduct an investigation of a Yokozuna and, by a vote of two-thirds of its members, take such action as issuing a warning or recommending retirement: He has numerous absences. However, when extended absence is due to injury or illness, the possibility of recovery can be taken into consideration and a sufficient treatment period be granted. He dishonours the rank of yokozuna He has an extremely poor record for a Yokozuna, one judged not deserving of the rank Now 7-8, and the first time that a Yokozuna had completed a 15 day tournament with makekoshi after these by-laws came in in 1958, to me seems to meet the third definition. A losing record is not deserving of the rank of Yokozuna (on the face of it). In the tournament before (Nagoya 1989), he had to withdraw on Day 5, and so recorded a 1-4-10 record. At this time, he was sharing the Yokozuna ranks with Chiyonofuji and Hokutoumi (as Futahaguro had been forced to retire after his oyakata handed in resignation papers in early 1988). All three were occasionally sitting out basho due to injury, but the yusho always went to a Yokozuna (but only once to Onokuni) and you could say that sumo was in a relatively healthy place, even if the pall of Futahaguro still hung over proceedings. Based on that situation, there perhaps wasn't the same need to refuse Onokuni's resignation as if he was the sole Yokozuna and losing him would create a very different landscape. It's also interesting to watch videos of the last two days of the tournament (available on the Sumo Reference page here), as Onokuni isn't taped on his legs, nor do his movements seem to be stilted or hampered by injury. Obviously, we can't tell just what might have been going on purely by the video, but nothing jumps out. Now, I'm not going to second guess here, because it is perhaps precisely the fact that there were other Yokozuna (and Asahifuji also joined the ranks while Onokuni was out injured) that allowed Onokuni the time off to rest his injuries. After going makekoshi in September 1989, Onokuni sat out Kyushu, came back in Hatsu 1990 to record 8-7 (but with 4 straight losses to end the tournament), and then sat out 4 straight basho before seemingly returning to his old self with 10-5, 10-5 and 12-3. Another absence in Natsu 1991 did not bode well, and he retired mid-basho at Nagoya in 1991.
  9. Sasanishiki

    Oonokuni Discussion

    I think disappointing is an apt word for his career. He moved steadily up the banzuke, regularly taking 4 or 5 steps forward and then one back when he reached a new personal high. This shows he was able to adapt and learn and bounce back when exposed to a new level of competition - all very promising things. He was a sanyaku rikishi before he was 21, had a 6-9 makekoshi in his first basho at Komusubi but then bounce back in Kyushu 1983 by defeating three Yokozuna on his way to a 10-5 record and a return to sanyaku. Quite rightly he won the Outstanding Performance Prize and that takes real ability and mental application. For the couple of years that he was an Ozeki, there were often 4 Ozeki (sometimes 5) and anywhere from 1-3 Yokozuna. Onokuni had a habit of losing on Days 14 and 15 and never quite being in the hunt for the yusho. He then went on a tear from Natsu basho 1987 of 15-0, 12-3 and 13-2 to secure his Yokozuna promotion, collecting his first Emperor Cup along the way. He was 25 for his first tournament as a Yokozuna. He had nearly 4 years as a Yokozuna (23 basho) but sat out or didn't finish 9 of the basho. He had the 7-8 makekoshi as well. Obviously the injuries played a major part in this decline at such a young age His overall record as a Yokozuna (155-79-111) equates to an average of two wins for every loss (absences aside), which is equivalent to a 10-5 basho average. That is more what is expected of an ozeki, not a Yokozuna I think that is what is really makes him "disappointing" when his career is looked back at. He was a moderate ozeki amongst a group of them at the time. He had a short period of exceptional results that got him to Yokozuna but then could really only deliver at an ozeki level when he is supposed to be the pinnacle of the sport. What doesn't help is that the other Yokozuna at this time, Chiyonofuji and Hokutoumi, were regularly winning the tournaments.
  10. Sasanishiki

    Corona and sumo

    It was the same with the Olympics. To make the decision and have to apologise for the problems that it has caused is perhaps less palatable then to bow to external pressures causing something to happen and then you have no choice (and it's not your fault).
  11. Sasanishiki

    Corona and sumo Two articles previously linked, and a third above, all mention that this is the third time that a basho has been cancelled. The English language article doesn't mention it, so I thought I'd expound for those who are interested. The first time was the Natsu Basho in 1946, when there were delays in the restoration work to the old Ryogoku Kokugikan due to war damage, and the second was the Haru Basho in 2011, which was cancelled due to the match-fixing scandal.
  12. Sasanishiki

    Banzuke for Natsu(?) 2020

    I wonder if we’ll see any shikona changes to try to change the (bad) luck surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic? If not, then the banzuke for July will just be a rinse and repeat of Natsu.
  13. Sasanishiki

    Corona and sumo

    Yes, they are aiming for the July basho to be moved from Nagoya to the Kokugikan, starting on 19 July.
  14. Sasanishiki

    Sumo films

    Digging up an old question in this thread, (at 44:14) might the Yokozuna be Tamanishiki? It's hard to know when the footage was taken, but Know Your Enemy: Japan was made between 1942 and 1945, so they may have used footage from the 1930s. Indeed, the baseball footage that they use just before this is from the Babe Ruth-led tour in 1934. It would make sense if the sumo footage was from around the same time. Tamanishiki was Yokozuna from 1933 until 1938 and was a rotund figure, just like in the video. Some footage and pictures from other Yokozuna in the 1930s showed them as fairly tall and a little leaner, so that is why I tend towards Tamanishiki. I actually saw similarities with Terukuni, who was Yokozuna from 1943 but thought it highly unlikely that the US would have wartime footage of sumo to use as stock footage for their propaganda film - much more likely to have clips from the 1930s.
  15. Sasanishiki

    Sumo related goods

    Imagine stubbing your toe on that table!
  16. I remember some discussions about this in the past. He was basically a bowling ball on really long legs. To get himself low enough to be effective, he had to have his legs wide apart, and that puts pressure on his knees and lower back. These are both areas that can cause long term difficulty if you are load bearing (his weight) and seeking power (his job). Now, the original question seemed to imply that the oyakata, by not letting him do weight training or strength and conditioning contributed to the problem, contributed to Akebono's problems. It also suggests that Akebono put on too much weight to be effective and that he should have stayed below 200kg. @bettega has provided information to say that Akebono was perhaps most effective up to 220kg. My take is that Akebono may have had too much weight once he had the knee problems to effectively rehab them. He was having to carry too much weight on suspect knees. That is not to say that he was carrying too much weight and this contributed to the knee injuries. He perhaps could have looked to lose some weight to take pressure off the knees, but that is hard to do when you are large and hard to do if you have knee problems. Now, the preference of Azumazeki oyakata to train his rikishi by resorting to traditional sumo activities can be looked at. Certainly much of the emphasis is to strengthen the lower body (the legs and hips) to provide a stable base for the weight the rikishi carries and the power they need to both generate on attack and absorb on defence. Any weight-training or strength and conditioning that he wasn't allowed to do might have helped, but he was essentially doing body weight exercises in training everyday. Over-training, or lack of rest, is another matter. I would think that Akebono was probably training about as much as other rikishi of his position, so I'm not really sure if there is an argument there. Adding strength and conditioning would have only added to the load. Whether the rest and rehab once he was injured was suitable is another question, and I don't think anyone is in the position to answer that with what little we know. One last thought: once he became high enough ranked, Akebono could live in his own place and could've set up a home gym there. Remember, once he is a sekitori and earns money or his own and can live by himself, he has individual agency to "improve" himself in his own time (as he now has personal time away from the stable).
  17. Sasanishiki

    Akebono gravely ill (activities thread)

    Wow, a lot has happened in the years that I have been away from following sumo. This is so sad to see, but the meeting with Wakanohana was really heart-warming. Akebono's speech seemed to improve, he had humour, and he certainly got some of his "spark" back. Unfortunately the video from January this year that Otokonoyama posted is not available - for anyone who watched it, can you give a brief synopsis?
  18. Sasanishiki

    Corona and sumo

    Even if there is recovery within the sumo community, I think the main issue with the Nagoya Basho is the movement of hundreds of people from Tokyo to Nagoya. This opens the stables and rikishi, as well as the broadcasters and other services facilitating the move (transport, lodgings, supporters, etc) to the potential spread of whatever remains of the COVID-19 outbreak in July. I think the most logical outcome is that Natsu is cancelled because of the health issues within the sumo community, that Nagoya is cancelled because of the risks to all parties because of travel, and that the September basho is the one that the NSK targets for getting back to normal, assuming that the COVID-19 situation is more contained and that there are no current or recent outbreaks within the sumo community at that time. Whether the September basho is held with audiences or not will depend on the general situation in Japan and consideration of the likely risks if there were spectators present.
  19. Sasanishiki

    Does Asashoryu Still Have It?

    I had an inkling the two 0-0-15 kyujo were to do with a sanction for behaviour, but couldn't recall exactly and didn't bother to check. Looking back on it now, I remember it was the elbow injury, taking part in charity soccer in Mongolia, becoming depressed in Tokyo during his ban and heading back to Mongolia for a break. He was out for 4-5 months due to the ban and the time in between basho. Depending on whether you accept that he had an elbow injury or whether it was an excuse to get out of the jungyo, that gave him time to rest an injured elbow, so his results might have been compromised anyway if he had carried on.
  20. Sasanishiki

    Does Asashoryu Still Have It?

    I've always been interested in periods of decline and ascendency by different Yokozuna. Hakuho certainly benefitted from Asashoryu being four and a half years older and being a bit more beaten up when he was coming though as an ozeki and to get the two yusho needed to become yokozuna, just as Asashoryu didn't have to face Musashimaru and Takanohana in his two yusho to get the tsuna. I had a look at their last 18 basho together (March 2007 - Jan 2010), chosen for a few reasons: it is the last 3 years of Asashoryu's career by basho it comes at the end of a 6 basho cycle where Asa had one 5 yusho and Hakuho his first (in Asashoryu's absence), so represents the period where they were "trading" yusho more regularly. The two of them won 16 of these 18 (with the other winners being Kotooshu and Harumafuji) Hakuho was about to become Yokozuna at age 22, so some of the same pressures in and outside of the rings are also brought to bear upon him in the same way as they are with Asashoryu During these 18 basho, we definitely see the rise of Hakuho. He wins 11/18 Yusho and is the runner up in record another 6 times (3 of which he lost in a kettei-sen). There is only one basho where he is not close to the title, when he records 11-4 (in his first basho as Yokozuna, so plenty of other distractions at hand). Asashoryu has a more checkered time, mainly due to injuries and absences. He wins 5/18 Yusho and is runner up in record 4 times (1 of which is a kettei-sen loss). He is an also-ran in 4 of the basho, but recording double digits each time. Importantly, though, he is kyujo from before or during the basho in 5 basho (Sept & Nov 2007 and July-Nov 2008). So, Hakuho looks to be in the ascendency and Asashoryu is breaking down and has his issues outside the sport. Looking more closely, in each of the 5 basho that Asashoryu is absent or has to withdraw from the basho, Hakuho wins the yusho. After both periods of kyujo, Asashoryu bounces back to close to his best: 13-2 jun-yusho in Jan 2008 to Hakuho's 14-1 yusho result; and, 14-1 yusho result in Jan 2009, defeating Hakuho in a kettei-sen. Over this 18 basho period, Asashoryu could only manage 4-9 record in regular matches against Hakuho, with 5 basho where they did not meet. However, in 3 kettei-sen between the two, Asashoryu came out with a 2-1 record, where the two wins came in the last 7 basho of his career. So, Hakuho was doing better in the head-to-head match-ups, but Asashoryu could still put up a fight with the title on the line, even in the last year of his career. As has been said by @Eikokurai, Asashoryu was still only 29 and a half when he left sumo, so still had some time on his side. He'd had some injuries (from memory, he had a back problem that would flare up), and Hakuho was still young enough that this was not a problem. While we are hypothesising, it's interesting to note that the 11-5 yusho ascendency to Hakuho in this period could also be read as 6-5-5 (where the last 5 refers to 5 won by Hakuho in Asashoryu's absence). If Asashoryu had not been absent, we'd look at perhaps him taking at least one or two off Hakuho in this period, perhaps more. That would make it a little closer to 9-7 yusho in Hakuho's favour, and would also correct the head-to-head bout numbers as well. Getting back to the original hypothesis of what it would look like if Asashoryu had stayed, I think we could have seen him stay perhaps two more years before he became too broken and/or sick of the restrictions that sumo had and that he seemed to get himself in trouble over repeatedly. In those perhaps 12 basho, I think we could've expected a healthy Asashoryu to take 3-4 as @Eikokurai has said. We know that Hakuho won 10 yusho in the next 12 basho after Asashoryu retired. He was obviously carrying on a rich vein of form, but he did not have the spectre of another Yokozuna waiting to trip him up on Day 15 either.
  21. Sasanishiki

    Sumo Reference

    I too have been looking at the Sumo Reference as a way to get back in touch with what has been happening since I stopped regularly following ozumo. I sent a message via the Sumo Reference site a couple of weeks ago, but not sure it got through, so I'll use this opportunity to ask @Doitsuyama if it is possible to have the information about university background as a searchable function to discover rikishi? The information is there in each profile, just not a way to filter rikishi. I thought it would be great if you could find all the Nittaidai alumni or those from Ritsumeikan, etc.
  22. Sasanishiki

    Does anybody know where they are?

    I've been back for a couple of weeks. It's been a while, so I re-introduced myself.
  23. Sasanishiki

    Former rikishi activities

    Thanks for providing this. He is one of the lower rankers that I used to follow after I met him a couple of times through the Ritsumeikan University sumo-bu connection that I had. I'm pleased to see that he had another 4+ years as a solid Makushita rikishi after I stopped following. He also looks to be fit and well in the video.
  24. Sasanishiki

    New recruits for July 2020

    I think by the look of the photo and the short TV clip that his father is on the left of the photo and the gentleman on the right is from the city sumo club. The mayor is in the grey pinstripe suit, and whose shoulder is to the front left of the picture.
  25. Sasanishiki

    Former rikishi activities

    So Masumeidai went into mass media?