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Did Akebono and his Oyakata got it wrong in the end?

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I started this thread because i am very curious about what you guys think on this question.

When Akebono arrived in the Makuuchi division in the early to mid 90s, he was a straight up beast.

However, as time went by, he began deteriorating, i believe that the main reason is that he put way too much weight, even for a rikishi.

It has been said by him in many interviews that Jesse (His oyataka, former first foreigner to win a yusho) did not let him trainees to do weightlifting or any sort of strenght and conditioning exercises, he just made them do a massive amount of sparring, which led to overtraining and injuries in many of him disciples, including akebono himself.

When he was winning his very first championships, he was huge, even by sumo standars, standing at 2 plus meters tall and 180 plus kilograms heavy.

I dont think that he needed any more bulk than that for his pushing style, since any more fat would make him slower and it would also make easier for the smaller opponents the task of making him lose his balance in those long, long legs.

However, he did put about 50 kg (110 pounds) afterwards, and he spent nearly 3 years without winning a cup.

This is Akebono in what i consider his peak physique:5985fc2201d9d_Sinttulo.thumb.png.2cb956d6c115f815aac30b56535fb7fb.png

And this is when he overbulked terribly and began to get injured, slower and overall worst than before:

photo.thumb.jpg.5df7de621941b926bbfa7a172cb64dc8.jpg

 

So what do you guys think? Did those extra 40-50 kg really destroyed Akebono and held him from maybe winning nearly 20 yushos in total? Or would have he lost anyway all of those 3 years before the great year that he had before his retirement?

 

Should have he lift weights despite Jesse s advice? What do you guys think?

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Akebono said in an interview that he would not have achieved yokozuna rank as quickly as he did had it not been for Jesse and his ways.

When you consider that he was the first ever gaijin yokozuna, that he's in the top 10 with 11 yusho, and that he was concurrent with 2 other all-time top 10 yokozuna, one of whom is the all-time no. 6 with 22 yusho, no, I don't think Akebono could have achieved much more than he did. As I recall, he was less stable when he was lighter, but I'm not qualified to say if he exceeded the optimum.

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2 hours ago, RabidJohn said:

Akebono said in an interview that he would not have achieved yokozuna rank as quickly as he did had it not been for Jesse and his ways.

When you consider that he was the first ever gaijin yokozuna, that he's in the top 10 with 11 yusho, and that he was concurrent with 2 other all-time top 10 yokozuna, one of whom is the all-time no. 6 with 22 yusho, no, I don't think Akebono could have achieved much more than he did. As I recall, he was less stable when he was lighter, but I'm not qualified to say if he exceeded the optimum.

Thanks for the reply but, dont you still think that he would have been better without surpassing the 200 kg barrier? I mean he beated Konishiki at 180, he beated Takanohana so many times at a lighter weight, in fact he began being less dominant against Takanohana when he got overbulked :/

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I don't really know. My armchair observation is that the oshi guys tend to wear out quicker, as just being older really seems to slow them down and rob them of their power. 

The argument kind of presupposes that the 50kg he gained was only fat, which I'm not sure I'd accept. But I'm not sure we can look up that stat. His record against Takanohana was pretty give-and-take over their careers, and his record against Konishiki solidly improved in the latter part of his career. By that isolated observation, the extra weight probably helped him out? Or else the extra weight really hindered Konishiki.

So I stand by my original, definitive response: I don't really know. 

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I couldn't follow the argument.

Akebono wins his first Yusho at 200 kg and his peak seems to be about 220 kg with 4 almost consecutive Yusho. With 180 kg he got "nothing" (as if a couple kimboshi and a fast travel to sanyaku could be called "nothing"). By the numbers, his peak is about 40kg above the mentioned 180 kg.

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Several years ago I read Akebono's biography. I would recommend everyone here to read it, too. The reason given for Akebono changing his style of wrestling was a severe back injury. It took many bashos to get his new technique fully integrated into his wrestling. He then started winning again. It has been often stated that the main reason for him not winning more yushos was the merger of two heyas "in order to prevent the top guys from fighting each other" and thus putting a huge roadblock to Akebono winning more yushos and making it easier for his opponents...Taka/Waka and others...to win. Just quoting what was written in the bio and said on the old listserve back 20 years ago.

 

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Akebono did remarkably well after so many injuries to come back and have that excellent - what turned out to be final year in 2000 - but undoubtedly his peak spell was 1993 to early 1994, before the injuries kicked in.  He was around 212/215kg as per Sumo World at that time.  But there is no doubt he did gradually become too top-heavy and made his legs even more vulnerable.

 

Swami

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1 hour ago, Swami said:

...there is no doubt he did gradually become too top-heavy and made his legs even more vulnerable.

Akebono was always too top-heavy. It was just his shape with those long legs and the bulk of his weight above his waist that put his centre of gravity too high. All the commentators remarked on it when he first appeared in makuuchi. He was very powerful, but also vulnerable to being toppled if his opponent managed to get a hold of his belt - that's what I meant about him lacking stability. I lost track of ozumo after 1992, so I was quite surprised to discover he'd made yokozuna. From the pics, I assumed that the added weight had increased his stability, simply by making him harder to move.

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7 hours ago, bettega said:

I couldn't follow the argument.

Akebono wins his first Yusho at 200 kg and his peak seems to be about 220 kg with 4 almost consecutive Yusho. With 180 kg he got "nothing" (as if a couple kimboshi and a fast travel to sanyaku could be called "nothing"). By the numbers, his peak is about 40kg above the mentioned 180 kg.

Yes indeed, he was 200 kg in his first yusho win, and between 200 and 180 is what i consider his top, peak physique.

Therefore the argument goes on about whether or not he was mistaken when he decided to put on another 30/40 kilograms.

 

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7 hours ago, Gaijingai said:

Several years ago I read Akebono's biography. I would recommend everyone here to read it, too. The reason given for Akebono changing his style of wrestling was a severe back injury. It took many bashos to get his new technique fully integrated into his wrestling. He then started winning again. It has been often stated that the main reason for him not winning more yushos was the merger of two heyas "in order to prevent the top guys from fighting each other" and thus putting a huge roadblock to Akebono winning more yushos and making it easier for his opponents...Taka/Waka and others...to win. Just quoting what was written in the bio and said on the old listserve back 20 years ago.

 

Thanks a lot for the answer. Could you please give us a link or the official name of the biography so we could read it / find it?

Thanks again.

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I think it is Immortal, but there is a Malamute photoshopped in at the bottom, which is why it amuses me (Laughing...)

 

 

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By the way, could anyone tell me what is the current situation of the Hawaian?

I know he went into bankrupcy a few years ago and has been fighting in wrestling and K1 since, but i also heard that recently he has been extremely ill

Does anyone know anything about that?

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2 hours ago, Stein said:

By the way, could anyone tell me what is the current situation of the Hawaian?

I know he went into bankrupcy a few years ago and has been fighting in wrestling and K1 since, but i also heard that recently he has been extremely ill

Does anyone know anything about that?

The information thread on Akebono's current illness is here:

http://www.sumoforum.net/forums/topic/34856-akebono-gravely-ill-activities-thread/

 

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Glad I found this thread as I have often wondered about Akebono’s weight gain. Was this a planned strategy, or did he simply have trouble keeping the weight off? If he had kept to a lower weight, surely his injuries would not have piled up as badly and perhaps he could even have kept his sumo career alive a few more years, no?

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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). 

 

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Posted (edited)
On 02/05/2020 at 00:25, Sasanishiki said:

@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.

I think both conclusions may be right. He was most effective in a weight that his body couldn't support for long/heal properly. Aoiyama seems to be a similar rikishi: he has a very thin line of weigth where is most effective. A little above? He gets hurt or slow. A little below? Meh, just a regular M10 rikishi

 

Edited by bettega

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On 01/05/2020 at 20:25, Sasanishiki said:

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). 

 

This is certainly true and something I had not considered before. And he surely would have had the money to build quite a nice home gym set up as well. Or even hire a trainer and nutritionist to help get him on a healthier track. Hmm....

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10 hours ago, Chanko Thief said:

This is certainly true and something I had not considered before. And he surely would have had the money to build quite a nice home gym set up as well. Or even hire a trainer and nutritionist to help get him on a healthier track. Hmm....

Was that a "thing" in the 90's?  I can't remember whether or not personal trainers were ubiquitous then, and I have no clue whether or not rikishi were into that.  Can anyone enlighten us?

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4 hours ago, Yamanashi said:

Was that a "thing" in the 90's?  I can't remember whether or not personal trainers were ubiquitous then, and I have no clue whether or not rikishi were into that.  Can anyone enlighten us?

To be honest I’m not sure, I was only born in 1990 myself. But I would imagine that people of means could hire personal trainers in the 90’s. I doubt your average joe had access to them like nowadays, but surely someone like Akebono would have?

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