Sign in to follow this  
madorosumaru

Paean to an Ancient Warrior

Recommended Posts

Kokonoe Oyakata, former Yokozuna Chiyonofuji, whose all-time win record was broken by Kaio in his final basho:

The result of the diligent work he put in every day [over the long years] was 1047 shiro-boshi. I'm sure he feels he has more than fully accomplished his mission. I think he must have lost the [extra] intensity and sense of commitment the moment he broke the record. A job well done for all these years.

Yokozuna Hakuho:

As a fellow member of Tatsunami Ichimon, he has led the way for me from the day I joined Ozumo. He was one of the rikishi that I idolized. I would like to sincerely say, "A job well done." I hope he will continue to mentor me in the future. I feel great pride to have faced such a dai-ozeki on the dohyo.

Takanohana Oyakata, who joined Ozumo at the same time as Kaio:

More than just a job well done, I feel it was a career well endured [through myriad adversities]. I had hoped that he would have remained forever as the "Bright Star of Our Class," but I suppose he has his own reasons and considerations. It's too bad [that he has to retire]. From now on, let's gambarize together as fellow "oyakata" for the betterment of the Kyokai.

Sanoyama Oyakata, former Ozeki Chiyotaikai:

As an old comrade-in-arms, I would like to sincerely say, "A job well done." As I watch today's bout, I sensed that it would be his last hurrah. I have always been truly impressed by his attitude--his willingness to stay on the dohyo for even one more day for the sake of the fans. I think he has been truly splendid.

Tamanoi Oyakata, former Ozeki Tochiazuma:

In observing him in the past few basho, I could sense that he has reached his physical limit. I think it is simply great that he broke the record at the end. It was truly wonderful that he was able to stay active until now. He was a very gentle and thoughtful rikishi.

Fujishima Oyakata, former Ozeki Musoyama:

We encouraged and stimulated each other over the years so he is a very special existence for me. I feel both sadness and regret. I thought he would just go kyojo and return next basho. But in the unforgiving world of competition, it is either win or perish. Perhaps, he is one who is feeling the greatest sense of relief.

Hanaregoma Rijicho:

It's been 23 long years since he joined Ozumo. I would like to express a sincere "Job well done." I think he will go down in sumo lore as an unparalleled dai-ozeki. In the future, he will be working to develop the new generation. It would be wonderful if he could nurture a brand new Kaio.

Kaio's Mom:

In all honesty, I feel relieved. There is a certain sadness but I had been so concerned with all his injuries. Well done, son. Now, get yourself healed and gambarize some more in the future.

Kaio's Dad:

I haven't sorted out my feelings. When things settle down a bit, I am going to sit down and have a nice long talk with him.

Kaio's Koenkai Chairman:

The dreaded day has finally arrived. All I can say is "Thank you for gamabarizing for all these long years."

Edited by madorosumaru

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Editorial comment from Sankei Shimbun:

Ozeki Kaio, who had established numerous records including 1047 career wins, has decided on retirement. Among the yokozuna and ozeki, who are considered the marquee attractions for Ozumo, the 38-year-old veteran was the lone Japanese rikishi. The last time the top two ranks lacked any Japanese was Hatsu Basho of 1993, when there was no yokozuna and two Americans, Akebono and Konishiki, were ozeki. From the standpoint of attracting fans and Kyokai/Rikishikai relationship, the departure of Kaio has significant ramifications.

Yaocho scandals have rocked Ozumo. When a large number of involved rikishi were purged from sumo, a group of dissatisfied gaijin rikishi threatened to boycott the honbasho. The individual that calmed the crisis was Kaio. His argument was: "What is a rikishi if he doesn't do sumo?" Kaio was a man who combined both a gentle character with formidable credentials. His senior status and earnestness towards sumo was respected by all rikishi. His words convinced the protesters to abandon their threat.

In the last few years, it has been one scandal after another for Ozumo. As an effect of the baseball betting scandal, attendance at the Nagoya Basho that followed plummeted. This year, due to the yaocho scandal, the crowd numbers are even lower. Yes, there is the on-going ozeki-tori challenge by Sekiwake Kotoshogiku. Despite that, the retirement of fan favorite Kaio, the quintessential "Gentle Giant," who reminded everyone of "Sumo-san of the good old days," would be a huge loss to Ozumo's quest for greater popularity.

Furthermore, Kaio was the representative of the Rikishikai to the Oyakata Council. He had the responsibility to convey meeting agenda to his fellow rikishi. Now, there is no one [who is a Japanese ozeki/yokozuna] to qualify for that role. The NSK is currently in process of converting to a public benefit corporation. Such controversial issues as the sales of oyakata myoseki have to be resolved. People close to the heya said, "The ozeki is extremely concerned that there would no longer be a bridge between the Rikishikai and the Kyokai."

The hole left by his retirement cannot be easily filled.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yokozuna Hakuho:

I feel great pride to have faced such a dai-ozeki on the dohyo.

"Dai-Ozeki" - I like it. (Sign of approval...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kokonoe Oyakata, former Yokozuna Chiyonofuji, whose all-time win record was broken by Kaio in his final basho:

The result of the diligent work he put in every day [over the long years] was 1047 shiro-boshi. I'm sure he feels he has more than fully accomplished his mission. I think he must have lost the [extra] intensity and sense of commitment the moment he broke the record. A job well done for all these years.

Yokozuna Hakuho:

As a fellow member of Tatsunami Ichimon, he has led the way for me from the day I joined Ozumo. He was one of the rikishi that I idolized. I would like to sincerely say, "A job well done." I hope he will continue to mentor me in the future. I feel great pride to have faced such a dai-ozeki on the dohyo.

Takanohana Oyakata, who joined Ozumo at the same time as Kaio:

More than just a job well done, I feel it was a career well endured [through myriad adversities]. I had hoped that he would have remained forever as the "Bright Star of Our Class," but I suppose he has his own reasons and considerations. It's too bad [that he has to retire]. From now on, let's gambarize together as fellow "oyakata" for the betterment of the Kyokai.

Sanoyama Oyakata, former Ozeki Chiyotaikai:

As an old comrade-in-arms, I would like to sincerely say, "A job well done." As I watch today's bout, I sensed that it would be his last hurrah. I have always been truly impressed by his attitude--his willingness to stay on the dohyo for even one more day for the sake of the fans. I think he has been truly splendid.

Tamanoi Oyakata, former Ozeki Tochiazuma:

In observing him in the past few basho, I could sense that he has reached his physical limit. I think it is simply great that he broke the record at the end. It was truly wonderful that he was able to stay active until now. He was a very gentle and thoughtful rikishi.

Fujishima Oyakata, former Ozeki Musoyama:

We encouraged and stimulated each other over the years so he is a very special existence for me. I feel both sadness and regret. I thought he would just go kyojo and return next basho. But in the unforgiving world of competition, it is either win or perish. Perhaps, he is one who is feeling the greatest sense of relief.

Hanaregoma Rijicho:

It's been 23 long years since he joined Ozumo. I would like to express a sincere "Job well done." I think he will go down in sumo lore as an unparalleled dai-ozeki. In the future, he will be working to develop the new generation. It would be wonderful if he could nurture a brand new Kaio.

Kaio's Mom:

In all honesty, I feel relieved. There is a certain sadness but I had been so concerned with all his injuries. Well done, son. Now, get yourself healed and gambarize some more in the future.

Kaio's Dad:

I haven't sorted out my feelings. When things settle down a bit, I am going to sit down and have a nice long talk with him.

Kaio's Koenkai Chairman:

The dreaded day has finally arrived. All I can say is "Thank you for gamabarizing for all these long years."

It may look over-sentimental, even cheesy but I had tears in my eyes as read some of comments above. (I am not worthy...)

Good bye Kai

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here are snippets from a typical article in a major sports publication:

Kaio Retires. Kyokai in Shock!

With Kaio's retirement, there is no Japanese in the top two ranks of Ozumo for the first time in 18 years. In Hatsu Basho of 1993, there were no yokozuna and two American-born rikishi, Akebono and Konishiki, were ozeki. However, that was in midst of the Waka-Taka Boom. In fact, Takanohana was promoted to ozeki the very next basho, so the blow [to the national pride] was minimal.

But the situation is different today. Because of the continuing scandals, Haru Basho was canceled and a May tournament was held without charging admissions. It is said that the loss of revenue to the Kyokai was approximately 3 billion yen. Regular honbasho resumed in Nagoya, but there has been no sell-out after the first ten days. Under such adverse conditions, the loss of an immensely popular marquee ozeki like Kaio has an incalculably damaging effect on the financial front.

Kaio's appeal stemmed from his image as the ideal Osumo-san: "Strong but gentle and kind." He joined Ozumo at the tender age of 15 and he oozes the sublime essence of the national sport from every pore. In addition, his sumo style is forceful and dynamic. His patented throws are truly distinctive. In dire contrast, today's sumo world is dominated by gaijin and gakusei rikishi. Unfortunately, it is this group of rikishi that had the tendency to be the cause of the current rash of scandals.

The Kyokai has decided to create a project team with the mission to revive sumo's popularity. The only way to regain the trust of the fans is to develop rikishi like Kaio, the quintessence of the fan ideal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(I am not worthy...) for teh Dai-Ozeki!

I believe that anyone of us has some nice memories in relation to Kaio. Mine first ones are from Kyushu 2004, when he got jun-yusho and the next basho would have been considered for promotion. Alas, didn't meant to be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In dire contrast, today's sumo world is dominated by gaijin and gakusei rikishi. Unfortunately, it is this group of rikishi that had the tendency to be the cause of the current rash of scandals.

Oh really...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In dire contrast, today's sumo world is dominated by gaijin and gakusei rikishi. Unfortunately, it is this group of rikishi that had the tendency to be the cause of the current rash of scandals.

Oh really...

In the recent yaocho scandal, 17 sekitori were fired or forced to intai. (Chiyohakuho was given a suspension but with the understanding that he would submit his intai papers.) In addition, five former sekitori in lower ranks were asked to retire. Among these rikishi were 8 gaijin and 5 former gakusei. Furthermore, Tanigawa Oyakata (former Kaiho), who was fired, was a graduate of Nichidai, alma mater of 4 of the other five yao-cho implicated gakusei rikishi.

That, I think, would constitute a "tendency" and/or an agenda on the part of the NSK.

Yaocho scandals have rocked Ozumo. When a large number of involved rikishi were purged from sumo, a group of dissatisfied gaijin rikishi threatened to boycott the honbasho.

Obviously, this group felt the entire procedure was amiss and/or unfair.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, since almost half of the sekitori are foreigners, what is the surprising in that proportion? (I am not sure about the meaning of "gakusei", so I won't speculate.)

Such outburs of xenophobia makes me sad. Especially since it seems it's "part of the Japanese way".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, since almost half of the sekitori are foreigners, what is the surprising in that proportion? (I am not sure about the meaning of "gakusei", so I won't speculate.)

Such outburs of xenophobia makes me sad. Especially since it seems it's "part of the Japanese way".

Gakusei is college graduate. Really no xenophobia here. In proportion, it seemed to be a lot, so people were speculating. Anyhow, both college and foreign rikishi are regarded by some circles as not "whole', because they didn't start from the bottom at an early age, but joined sumo in their twenties or after having amateur or college sumo club experience, bringing with them "habits" and generally being "spoiled'.

Edited by Kintamayama

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kinta is correct. Deshi that start from the very bottom fresh out of middle school at age 15 are called "tataki-age." Many Kyokai muckety-mucks, including future rijicho Takanohana, consider them to be the only "untainted" sumotori.

There were 7 makuuchi rikish that were fired or forced to retire. Six of them, are foreign-born. In the baseball gambling scandal, three of the most prominent involved rikishi were former gakusei: Ozeki Kotomitsuki; Miyabiyama, a former ozeiki; and Futeno, a former komusubi.

One can understand why the Japanese media would see a "tendency." Whether that attitude is correct or fair is another matter. That's why I added the part about the threatened boycott. Obviously, that group of gaijin rikishi felt that their colleagues were treated unfairly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kaio answered some questions from the media at his retirement conference.

Media: How do you feel now that you've retired?

Kaio: I really haven't come to a full realization yet. It still feels rather strange.

M: When did you make the decision?

K: Before the bout yesterday (Day 10), I discussed with my shisho what to do if I were to lose. In my mind, I knew that this would be my last stand and that there would be no next basho.

M: Looking back at the 23 years . . .

K: At first, I wasn't even sure I wanted to join sumo. I didn't particularly like sumo, but as I worked at it [in keiko] and started to rise on the banzuke, I began to enjoy it more and more.

M: You couldn't become a yokozuna . . .

K: I had several chances but failed each time. I realized that one had to be mentally tough to become a yokozuna. I just couldn't take advantage of the opportunities I had.

M: Who were your rivals?

K: Musoyama (currently Fujishima Oyakata) was close to me in age and many considered us rivals, so I didn't want to lose to him. In recent years, it was Chiyotaikai (currently Sanoyama Oyakata). We both had to suffer through a lot of injuries, so we would on occasions talk about when and how to hang it up.

M: Have you considered intai before?

K: Several times. However, my desire to continue with sumo by hook or crook was stronger. Even when I had my back to the wall, I somehow was able to do my sumo and survive.

M: What would you like to do in the future?

K: I entered this world when I was 15, so I don't even have the habit of wearing shoes. There haven't been any occasions for me to dress in a normal fashion. I think I need to learn about a lot of new things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
M: Have you considered intai before?

K: Several times. However, my desire to continue with sumo by hook or crook was stronger.

"By hook or by crook?" That's virtually admitting to yaocho, isn't it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
M: Have you considered intai before?

K: Several times. However, my desire to continue with sumo by hook or crook was stronger.

"By hook or by crook?" That's virtually admitting to yaocho, isn't it?

Only the crook part.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
M: Have you considered intai before?

K: Several times. However, my desire to continue with sumo by hook or crook was stronger.

"By hook or by crook?" That's virtually admitting to yaocho, isn't it?

Only the crook part.

Sorry but I don't think of that statement as any kind of admission. He could mean "even though my back is killing me I got to get up on the dohyo and take care of this joi-jin opponent" or "wow my knee is busted up but I know rikishi X is hurting too and maybe I can throw a Kaio-nage and take this match". 'By hook or crook" is taken to be by all means necessary- if Plan A isn't working, better switch to Plan B-if that doesn't work, go to Plan C- whatever it takes to get the job done. It could also mean just showing up for a match when he knew when wouldn't be able to compete, just so he wouldn't go fusen and might be in better condition the next day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That, I think, would constitute a "tendency" and/or an agenda on the part of the NSK.

I'll be bold and say I think I agree with the second half of that statement...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
M: Have you considered intai before?

K: Several times. However, my desire to continue with sumo by hook or crook was stronger.

"By hook or by crook?" That's virtually admitting to yaocho, isn't it?

No, he means hatakikomi.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this