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Otokonoyama

Yokozuna promotion criteria

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I would be in favor of strict guidelines for promotions, both with regard to Ozeki promotions and Yokozuna promotions. That the current "de facto" standards (33+ wins for Ozeki; back-to-back yusho for Yokozuna) have their problems is not the fault of standards per se. It's simply that the concrete standards suck.

The Ozeki standard is laughably high and completely unnecessary. I have fiddled around with some data and tried various standards (see table below). In the first line you see how the outcome would be if the standard were "3 consecutive KK as Sekiwake and at least 33 wins" (that's the standard that some would like to see). In this case, five rikishi would have not made it to Ozeki (yet), the most recent case of course being Kisenosato.

If the standard would be lowered to 32 or more wins, Kisenosato would be in again, but nobody else.

Now imagine that the Kyokai would do the unthinkable and lower the bar to 31+ wins. You think there would be flood of new Ozeki? That's what I thought, but it turned out that not a single additional Ozeki would have been created. Some relatively underperforming Ozeki would still have been barred from promotion (Wakahaguro, Daiju, Masuiyama, and Musoyama).

If you lower the bar even further (30+ wins), then and only then some additional Ozeki would have been created, viz. Hasegawa, Kotonishiki, and Wakanosato. I could have easily lived with that. Daiju and Masuiyama, however, still would have never made it.

Heck, even if you lowered the bar to 29+ or 28+ wins, the list of additional Ozeki would not have been that terrible (with Kakuryu, Dewanohana, and Kotogaume).

Requirement

Additional Ozeki

Spared Ozeki

3 KK as Sekiwake; 33+ wins none Wakahaguro, Daiju, Masuiyama, Musoyama, Kisenosato
3 KK as Sekiwake; 32+ wins none Wakahaguro, Daiju, Masuiyama, Musoyama
3 KK as Sekiwake; 31+ wins none Wakahaguro, Daiju, Masuiyama, Musoyama
3 KK as Sekiwake; 30+ wins Hasegawa, Kotonishiki, Wakanosato Daiju, Masuiyama
3 KK as Sekiwake; 29+ wins Hasegawa, Kotonishiki, Wakanosato, Kakuryu Daiju, Masuiyama
3 KK as Sekiwake; 28+ wins Hasegawa, Kotonishiki, Wakanosato, Kakuryu, Dewanohana, Kotogaume Daiju, Masuiyama

Bottom line: one could easily lower the Ozeki promotion bar to 30+ wins (all from Sekiwake), instead of having that ludicrous 33 - and no harm would have been done.

Now let's get on topic (First prize...)

Yokozuna promotions. I don't like the "two yusho rule", as it is well nigh impossible to get consecutive yusho at times of Hakuho. At other times, it appears to me that two yushos could have been achieved too easily, e.g. in Wakanohana's case. Therefore I played around with Yokozuna promotion criteria that were based on 3-basho win counts. The second table shows the promotion patterns in case that Ozeki must have three consecutive bashos with 11 wins minimum, plus a certain win total.

If the bar is set very high (39+ wins), six actual Yokozuna wouldn't have been promoted. And I think that in hindsight, none of them would have been a superduper candidate to begin with.

If you go down to 38+ wins (second line), there would have still been two actual Yokozuna who would not have been promoted (the somewhat problematic Futahaguro and Wakanohana). The only extra entry as Yokozuna would have been Konishiki, arguably the strongest Ozeki who never made it.

Going even further down to 37+ wins, Wakashimazu and Takanonami (in addition to Konishiki) would have become Yokozuna. Still sounds like a fair deal to me - Takanonami is certainly borderline, but on the plus side Futahaguro and Wakanohana still could have been spared.

And even a 36+ rule doesn't seem entirely stupid to me, as we had two more Yokozuna (Kaio and Kotokaze).

Requirement

Additional Yokozuna

Spared Yokozuna

min. 11 over 3 bashos as Ozeki; 39+ wins none Asashio, Kashiwado, Tochinoumi, Futahaguro, Hokutoumi, Wakanohana
min. 11 over 3 bashos as Ozeki; 38+ wins Konishiki Futahaguro, Wakanohana
min. 11 over 3 bashos as Ozeki; 37+ wins Konishiki, Wakashimazu, Takanonami Futahaguro, Wakanohana
min. 11 over 3 bashos as Ozeki; 36+ wins Konishiki, Wakashimazu, Takanonami, Kotokaze, Kaio none

Bottom line: I'd rather have a three-basho prospect of, say, 38+ wins instead of the two-yusho rule.

Edited by Randomitsuki

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I recall that someone, a couple of years ago, did a statistical analysis of every fighter, and ordered them by peak strength.

It was like the chess ELO system.

And I remember that the objective performance of each individual mapped quite well against their top rank.

The Yokozuna and Ozeki were divided by a significant point barrier.

With that in mind, I agree we can discuss this back and forth for all eternity, but in the end, the current promotion criteria seem to map the reality of the Yokozuna worthiness well enough.

I am impressed. You do statistical analysis and try to figure out "motivation on/off". How about including physical injuries which is the biggest (unused) factor? And in the light of ozeki and yokozuna's level, there is another factor, although a lot smaller: ozeki-games. You can measure by the speed of sekitori movement. That speed is simply measurable by some image-analysis or something and is most recognizable in Hakuho matches. If he throw a match or two, he is exceptionally slow. And with stupid planning but this requires a lot more sophisticated analysis and that factor seems to be weaker too. Measuring the speed is enough.

I must say that all old ozekis are chronically injured and the results of given basho strongly depends of the sekitoris accumulated injuries and recoveries.

So much about mental toughness, even in case of Kotooshu.

If you want to assess the mental side, then before that is a factor of knowledge of the opponent. Yokozuna, Ozeki and joi-in know each other better then their own wifes. They are figured out how to play cat-and-mouse with Baruto (5 bytes memory and cpu 1 Hertz per day) and Kotooshu (always long mode (64bit) on). Kotooshu rose so quickly that nobody didn't learn to fight with so long opponent. But in yoi-in it was figured out by only 3-4 bashos and after that Kotooshu simply fail every other day. He must buy some strategical planning software and fight with iPad2 on the other hand, he is physically smart enough to win with only on hand and checking recommendations from the screen in the first hand.

Just my two vanishing

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I'm assuming (cause I'm too lazy to look at all three) the Yokozuna that wouldn't have made it was Wakanohana III.

Edited by Washuyama

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I'm assuming (cause I'm too lazy to look at all three) the Yokozuna that wouldn't have made it was Wakanohana III.

That's why I entered clickable names that link to Sumoreference. (First prize...) But yeah, it was Wakanohana III.

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Just for the record, I completely share Flohru's position here.

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Requirement

Additional Ozeki

Spared Ozeki

3 KK as Sekiwake; 33+ wins none Wakahaguro, Daiju, Masuiyama, Musoyama, Kisenosato
3 KK as Sekiwake; 32+ wins none Wakahaguro, Daiju, Masuiyama, Musoyama
3 KK as Sekiwake; 31+ wins none Wakahaguro, Daiju, Masuiyama, Musoyama
3 KK as Sekiwake; 30+ wins Hasegawa, Kotonishiki, Wakanosato Daiju, Masuiyama
3 KK as Sekiwake; 29+ wins Hasegawa, Kotonishiki, Wakanosato, Kakuryu Daiju, Masuiyama
3 KK as Sekiwake; 28+ wins Hasegawa, Kotonishiki, Wakanosato, Kakuryu, Dewanohana, Kotogaume Daiju, Masuiyama

Bottom line: one could easily lower the Ozeki promotion bar to 30+ wins (all from Sekiwake), instead of having that ludicrous 33 - and no harm would have been done.

The funny thing is that with this standard Musoyama would have been promoted to Ozeki already in 1994 following a 9-6, 8-7, 13-2j sekiwake stint while in fact he was promoted only in 2000 after scoring 10-5, 13-2y, 12-3j with the first basho ranked at komusubi. One can't be sure if we had seen a stronger ozeki Musoyama that way, but I certainly consider his 2000 ozeki run stronger than the one basho peak in 1994. Which of course could be the problem of your approach here - basically one peak would be enough for a mediocre but consistent 8-7 sekiwake while you would exclude anyone with three really good basho just because the first one was at komusubi (against the same opponents)...

As for your yokozuna standard proposal: completely removing the yusho-factor out of the promotion requirements just isn't convincing IMO.

Edited by Flohru

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I would be in favor of strict guidelines for promotions, both with regard to Ozeki promotions and Yokozuna promotions. That the current "de facto" standards (33+ wins for Ozeki; back-to-back yusho for Yokozuna) have their problems is not the fault of standards per se. It's simply that the concrete standards suck.

A major reason behind tightening the yokozuna promotion standards was the scandal caused by nonpromotion of Konishiki. It was correctly pointed out (and falsely attributed to Konishiki) that a Japanese with his record would have been promoted. After that scandal, Japanese like Takanohana could fall foul of the newly raised standards - which also caused a scandal.

Konishiki having 2 yusho out of 3 and 12:3 between them. In the event, he continued 13Y-12-13Y-9, and never got over 10 as ozeki. Would he have got tsuna with 13Y-12-13Y-12 (and still no consecutive yusho)?

Now let's get on topic (First prize...)

Yokozuna promotions. I don't like the "two yusho rule", as it is well nigh impossible to get consecutive yusho at times of Hakuho. At other times, it appears to me that two yushos could have been achieved too easily, e.g. in Wakanohana's case.

There is 1 yusho each basho regardless of performance. What does not happen each basho is kettei-sen.

Out of the 323 basho since 1957, 62 have had a makuuchi playoff. 1 5-way (1996.11), 1 4-way (1997.03), 5 tomoe-sens and 55 kettei-sens. Meaning there have been 72 yusho-dotens besided the 323 yushos.

Would it make sense to recognize a yusho-doten as equivalent for yusho for yokozuna promotion purposes?

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Would it make sense to recognize a yusho-doten as equivalent for yusho for yokozuna promotion purposes?

This has, indeed, been so regarded -- not, perhaps, actually put into as many words. In the case of Konishiki, who never in fact met the qualification regardless of who said what, was that the apparently respectable 12-3 between his two yusho was actually 3rd best, not runner-up. In my own opinion, the real discrimination he suffered was in the delay in promoting him to ozeki; an earlier promotion would have given him more chances of making yokozuna.

Orion

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...the real discrimination he suffered was in the delay in promoting him to ozeki;

Orion

I'm asking as I'm basing my question purely on stats... Where was the delay in promoting him?

Konishiki records from sanyaku debut

1984.11 S1w - 5-6-4
1985.01 M1w - 6-9
1985.03 M3w - 8-7
1985.05 K1w - 12-3 JY
1985.07 S1w - 9-6
1985.09 S1e - 0-0-15
1985.11 M9w - 11-4
1986.01 K1w - 10-5
1986.03 K1e - 12-3 JY
1986.05 S1w - 3-6-6
1986.07 M4e - 0-0-15
1986.09 M4e - 12-3 JY 
1986.11 S1w - 10-5   
1987.01 S1e - 10-5   
1987.03 S1e - 11-4 JY
1987.05 S1e - 12-3   
1987.07 O1w

I can only see a slight argument for one basho earlier, but even that's hard to see given there were 2Y and 5O at the time.

Were there other circumstances at the time that aren't apparent from a stats-only perspective? (First prize...)

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There have been 14 jun-yushos with 14:1 result. 10 of them since 1958.

Hard to get back-to-back yusho or indeed any yusho with Hakuho around? Yes, but this is no excuse not to get a 14:1 jun-yusho behind Hakuho

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I think much of our landscape is painted by two simply astounding dai-yokozuna, and several mediocre Ozeki. I think it is okay to have guarantees like the 2 yusho guarantee, but I do think that there should be some leniency and judgement involved in special circumstances. The current crop of Ozeki, and the previous ones for the last 5-8 years, have just not been in the same league as Asa and Hakuho. Since 2005, only Harumafuji has managed even just 33 wins over 3 basho, let alone 38.

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I agree that the 2 yusho is problematic with Hakuho on top of the mountain, but hasn't it been said that it is an equivalency?

Meaning that a 14-1 and 13-2 basho would be recognized as 2 yusho equivalent?

The current Ozeki criteria are strict, but otoh, there is something to be said for having a hard to reach goal.

Even if lowering the standards would not have created additional Ozeki, the psychological effect of only having to reach a lower standard would have taken part of the 'achievement' away.

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I agree that the 2 yusho is problematic with Hakuho on top of the mountain, but hasn't it been said that it is an equivalency?

Meaning that a 14-1 and 13-2 basho would be recognized as 2 yusho equivalent?

It hasn

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I think much of our landscape is painted by two simply astounding dai-yokozuna, and several mediocre Ozeki. I think it is okay to have guarantees like the 2 yusho guarantee, but I do think that there should be some leniency and judgement involved in special circumstances. The current crop of Ozeki, and the previous ones for the last 5-8 years, have just not been in the same league as Asa and Hakuho. Since 2005, only Harumafuji has managed even just 33 wins over 3 basho, let alone 38.

While it's true that Hakuho and Asashoryu are (were) in another sphere than the "current crop of ozeki", I actually don't think they are mediocre. Please compare them with other ozeki in the past and then tell me they are worse than most of them. This simply wouldn't be true. If you look hard and cold at the facts you have to admit that every ozeki is "mediocre" in your understanding unless he makes it to yokozuna.

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I agree that the 2 yusho is problematic with Hakuho on top of the mountain, but hasn't it been said that it is an equivalency?

Meaning that a 14-1 and 13-2 basho would be recognized as 2 yusho equivalent?

It hasn

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Is this a peter principle thing now? Any ozeki who does not make it to yokozuna should not have been promoted in the first place. They were promoted to where they are not meeting expectations, are in effect incompetent for their rank. Once you make it to ozeki a kachikoshi every other basho will keep you there. You never need to get 32 wins within three basho again.

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I agree that the 2 yusho is problematic with Hakuho on top of the mountain, but hasn't it been said that it is an equivalency?

Meaning that a 14-1 and 13-2 basho would be recognized as 2 yusho equivalent?

It hasn

Edited by Jaak

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If I may ask a question. What is a yokozuna anyway? Is it a prize to be earned or a position to be filled?

Consider: in the present day in the US there is a tendency to refer to "defending champions." But the actual definition of

"champion" is "defender," so that is redundant. We think that a championship is a prize instead of a position.

If a yokozuna is the defender of the integrity of the sport/way of life, then Hakuho is certainly capable of defending

ozumo single-handedly. Maybe the meaning is that no other yokozuna is presently needed and no crisis exists.

Asashoryu had some issues -- physical and behavioral -- which eventually provided an opening for Hakuho's

advancement. If Hakuho doesn't get injured -- which seems both likely and statistically unlikely -- then no other

rikishi can advance to yokozuna, but no 2nd yakozuna is really needed. This would suggest that the two yusho

standard has some value. If the sitting yokozuna shows up for every bout and rarely loses, you may call him a

dai-yokozuna or anything else you want (a word is just a word), but he is still properly defending the integrity of

ozumo solo.

Figuratively: some lions, depending upon geographic factors and lioness population levels, must ally

with other lions to hold their breeding prerogatives within a pride, but some lions are

able to do it alone.

On the other hand, if yokozuna is merely a prize to be won, then making it easier to achieve could be seen as watering

down the deed.

Or, on my third hand, if yokozuna is just a pay grade then the Kyokai can pay anybody anything they wish and the whole

discussion is purely academic.

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But the actual definition of "champion" is "defender," so that is redundant.

I have to ask, since you seem to build up your case on this notion: For which language is this supposed to be true? Because the etymology of "champion" (English, French etc.) is clearly not what you claim.

Edited by yorikiried by fate

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But the actual definition of "champion" is "defender," so that is redundant.

I have to ask, since you seem to build up your case on this notion: For which language is this supposed to be true? Because the etymology of "champion" (English, French etc.) is clearly not what you claim.

Not English. Not French. Not any language for which the word for this concept is cognate to "champion". Not Japanese; "grand champion" and "champion" for "yokozuna" and "ozeki" are translations so loose as to be basically wrong.

But even if it were true for some language, etymology does not equal definition. If it did, words would never change.

Omoimori may be confused by the *verb* "to champion", which means to advocate or defend some cause. It's a metaphorical derivation from the noun, not the other way around.

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Takanohana was not promoted with the same record, either (14:1Y in 1993.05, 13:2D in 1993.07). Suggesting that yusho-doten was not accepted as yusho equivalent... was the nonpromotion controversial?

Not sure about that case, but I do know that 14 months later when Takanohana won his sixth yusho with a 15-0 score the Kyokai did actually recommend Takanohana be promoted, but the Yokozuna Deliberation Committee turned them down, insisting that he had to get two consecutive yusho, something that until then he had failed to do (he had been dubbed the "Tokyo Yokozuna" because none of his six yusho had been won outside of the Kokugikan).

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I think much of our landscape is painted by two simply astounding dai-yokozuna, and several mediocre Ozeki. I think it is okay to have guarantees like the 2 yusho guarantee, but I do think that there should be some leniency and judgement involved in special circumstances. The current crop of Ozeki, and the previous ones for the last 5-8 years, have just not been in the same league as Asa and Hakuho. Since 2005, only Harumafuji has managed even just 33 wins over 3 basho, let alone 38.

While it's true that Hakuho and Asashoryu are (were) in another sphere than the "current crop of ozeki", I actually don't think they are mediocre. Please compare them with other ozeki in the past and then tell me they are worse than most of them. This simply wouldn't be true. If you look hard and cold at the facts you have to admit that every ozeki is "mediocre" in your understanding unless he makes it to yokozuna.

Counterexample being the greatest rikishi ever, who was never promoted to yokozuna (Raiden). And of course there are others.

The bulk of less than mediocre ozekis are presumably the kanban ozekis.

Who are the most recent ozekis who should have been promoted to yokozuna but were not? And who are the most recent ozekis who should not have been promoted to ozeki in the first place?

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, I actually don't think they are mediocre. Please compare them with other ozeki in the past and then tell me they are worse than most of them. This simply wouldn't be true. If you look hard and cold at the facts you have to admit that every ozeki is "mediocre" in your understanding unless he makes it to yokozuna.

I know some of these overlap, but here's the query for 33 wins over 3 basho for Ozeki since 1980. Yokozuna in red.

Rikishi Basho

1. Musashimaru18

2. Asahifuji12

3. Konishiki10

3. Takanonami10

3. Wakanohana10

6. Takanohana9

7. Takanosato8

7. Wakashimazu8

9. Kaio7

9. Kotokaze7

11. Onokuni5

12. Hakuho4

13. Akebono3

13. Asashoryu3

13. Chiyotaikai3

13. Hokutoumi3

17. Asashio2

17. Kirishima2

19. Chiyonofuji1

19. Harumafuji1

19. Hokutenyu1

19. Kitao1

19. Tochiazuma1

Maybe that doesn't look so bad to you, but to me, it shows that today's ozeki class just don't seem to measure up. 33 wins was chosen because a)it is largely considered "Ozeki level" sumo, and b) if I had put it any higher, there would have been zero results for current ozeki.

edited: One of these days I'll bother getting the formatting right.

edited to also add: Would it be difficult to add a "career high rank" to the query? i.e. 33 wins or more over 3 basho, career high rank Ozeki

Edited by Gusoyama

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Here's the table for:

  • at least 30 wins over basho 1-3
  • basho 1: rank O; year >1957
  • group by rikishi

I think that this shows that our current crop is average, while Dejima/Musoyama/Miyabiyama were clearly below average. I'm not sure where to put Kotomitsuki, as his career was cut short.

  Query.aspx?show_form=0&columns=3&rowcount=5&sum_wins=30&group_by=rikishi&form1_rank=O&form1_year=%3E1957&gsort_by=shikona'>Rikishi Query.aspx?show_form=0&columns=3&rowcount=5&sum_wins=30&group_by=rikishi&form1_rank=O&form1_year=%3E1957'>Basho
1.  Rikishi.aspx?r=4'>Musashimaru 28
2.  Rikishi.aspx?r=3'>Wakanohana 18
3.  Rikishi.aspx?r=5'>Takanonami 17
4.  Rikishi.aspx?r=1342'>Asahifuji 14
4.  Rikishi.aspx?r=8'>Chiyotaikai 14
4.  Rikishi.aspx?r=4028'>Tamanoshima 14
7.  Rikishi.aspx?r=7'>Kaio 13
7.  Rikishi.aspx?r=4127'>Wakashimazu 13
9.  Rikishi.aspx?r=1287'>Konishiki 12
10.  Rikishi.aspx?r=2'>Takanohana 11
10.  Rikishi.aspx?r=4003'>Yutakayama 11
12.  Rikishi.aspx?r=1363'>Hokutenyu 10
12.  Rikishi.aspx?r=4112'>Kotokaze 10
12.  Rikishi.aspx?r=3994'>Sadanoyama 10
15.  Rikishi.aspx?r=4025'>Kitanofuji 9
15.  Rikishi.aspx?r=4104'>Takanosato 9
17.  Rikishi.aspx?r=4015'>Kotozakura 8
17.  Rikishi.aspx?r=4095'>Wakamisugi 8
19.  Rikishi.aspx?r=3975'>Kashiwado 7
19.  Rikishi.aspx?r=3977'>Kitabayama 7
19.  Rikishi.aspx?r=4024'>Kiyokuni 7
19.  Rikishi.aspx?r=4065'>Mienoumi 7
19.  Rikishi.aspx?r=1350'>Onokuni 7
24.  Rikishi.aspx?r=1111'>Harumafuji 6
24.  Rikishi.aspx?r=1301'>Kirishima 6
24.  Rikishi.aspx?r=4056'>Takanohana 6
24.  Rikishi.aspx?r=3948'>Tochihikari 6
28.  Rikishi.aspx?r=4022'>Daikirin 5
28.  Rikishi.aspx?r=1339'>Hokutoumi 5
28.  Rikishi.aspx?r=3987'>Taiho 5
28.  Rikishi.aspx?r=19'>Tochiazuma 5
32.  Rikishi.aspx?r=1379'>Asashio 4
32.  Rikishi.aspx?r=3918'>Asashio 4
32.  Rikishi.aspx?r=6432'>Baruto 4
32.  Rikishi.aspx?r=1123'>Hakuho 4
32.  Rikishi.aspx?r=2830'>Kotooshu 4
32.  Rikishi.aspx?r=3989'>Tochinoumi 4
32.  Rikishi.aspx?r=4074'>Wajima 4
39.  Rikishi.aspx?r=1'>Akebono 3
39.  Rikishi.aspx?r=4061'>Asahikuni 3
39.  Rikishi.aspx?r=878'>Asashoryu 3
39.  Rikishi.aspx?r=4080'>Kitanoumi 3
39.  Rikishi.aspx?r=3910'>Kotogahama 3
39.  Rikishi.aspx?r=6'>Musoyama 3
45.  Rikishi.aspx?r=4136'>Kitao 2
45.  Rikishi.aspx?r=876'>Kotomitsuki 2
45.  Rikishi.aspx?r=3947'>Wakahaguro 2
48.  Rikishi.aspx?r=1354'>Chiyonofuji 1
48.  Rikishi.aspx?r=31'>Dejima 1
48.  Rikishi.aspx?r=4076'>Kaiketsu 1
48.  Rikishi.aspx?r=3904'>Wakanohana 1
Edited by Gusoyama

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Why is it a problem that there is only one yokozuna? Why the desire to change a tried & trusted promotion criteria? It is never a good idea to knee-jerk change something just because there's someone around dominating a sport. It devalues the rank. The fact of the matter is that no-one is at Hakuho's level, so to me it seems fitting that no-one else shares his rank. Are we really saying there is someone in makuuchi who currently deserves to stand side by side with him? Ridiculous in my opinion.

Instead we should enjoy and appreciate what we are seeing rather than devaluing a rank so that we can artificially put someone there with him who would plainly not deserve to be there. Formula One changed their points system in 2003 when Michael Schumacher was dominating the sport so that the WDC would be artificially close. The result was that a driver with 1 win that year (Raikkonen) came within a whisker of winning the title from a driver who had 6 wins (Schumacher), all because Raikkonen had been a consistent runner-up (or 1st loser if you prefer). It would have made a mockery of the sport, just like the diluting of the yokozuna rank would make a mockery of Hakuho's utter domination.

Look at the bigger picture, not just the here & now.

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