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Would This Work In Suno?

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I would love to read the article but after a couple of sentences, the Wall Street Journal won't let me read more unless I subscribe!!  Would you be able to somehow override that, so that those of us without subscriptions can read it? 

The beginning of the article sounds like Korea is trying to add sex appeal to the sport!  lol

Edited by sumojoann
spelling correction
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It's about Ssireum i suppose, i would too like to read and debate the article.

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For some reason it allowed me to read the article earlier this morning, but now blocks it. Not even incognito mode helps.

Here is the summary that I remember:

- The association implements a weight limit, and will continue reducing the weight limit because nobody wants to see fat dudes fight (with the drooping fat - their words)

- Suddenly ssireum players are invited to talk shows (but only ones who you can see the muscles, who are from lower divisions)

- The big ssireum players are understandably pissed

- Young women come to the arena holding signs that say "I love (wrestler) because he is strong rich and handsome." This pisses off the older fans.

- Wrestlers skipped the November honbasho because there was a TV tournament with huge prize money.

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By

Na-Young Kim

Dec. 1, 2019 1:10 pm ET

SEOUL—In a new sports ad, a brawny South Korean man stands shirtless in a pair of shorts. The camera pans six-pack abs and a chiseled jawline.

“It’s pleasurable, excitable, your heart rate quickens,” the ad’s voiceover says. “Wanna play?”It’s not a promotion for boxing or mixed-martial arts. It’s an attempt to rebrand South Korea’s centuries-old take on sumo wrestling.

Lean and mean.

Called ssireum (pronounced “sheed-um”), Korea’s traditional wrestling has fallen on hard times. Many saw the sport as unathletic, and had little desire to watch beefy men toss each other to the ground. Once a national pastime that drew two-thirds of Korean households, TV ratings slid under 1% last year, according to the Korean Broadcasting System’s sports channel.

Ssireum’s organizers believe they have found a way to pick the sport back up off the mat: a sexy makeover.

“Drooping flesh, cellulite and sweat makes female viewers want to turn the camera away,” said Lee Seung-sam, secretary general of the Korea Ssireum Association. “If more players build their bodies like Hercules, I believe the popularity will go up,” he said.

Attendance at ssireum events this year has grown fivefold, driven by a surge in female fans, according to the association. In November, South Korea’s largest television network introduced a reality show featuring 16 super-fit wrestlers called “Excitement of Ssireum.”

Heo Sun-haeng, a TV show participant who also appeared in the ssireum promotional ad, admits he now does much more than stretch before a wrestling match.

 “I try to tidy up my hair more these days because I know people are taking pictures,” says Mr. Heo, 20, who stands about 6-feet-tall and weighs about 185 pounds. More widely known ssireum players are around 300 pounds.

Ssireum claims to be at least 2,000 years old and predate Japanese sumo wrestling. The two sports overlap in aesthetics but differ by the rules of victory. Sumo wrestlers win by shoving an opponent outside the field of play. In ssireum, players lose when any part of their body above the knee touches the ground. It’s generally a best-of-three match.

Ssireum’s rebranding requires a role reversal among the sport’s traditional hierarchy. Typically the heftiest competitors, usually 300 pounds or more, collect all the trophies and seize the glory at the sport’s national championships—where players of all sizes compete against one another. But now, the sport is championing the literal pushovers.

The Korea Ssireum Association wants to tilt the scales even more. It has already dropped the maximum allowed weight by more than 20 pounds, to about 308 pounds. In future years it plans to reduce the limit even more, allowing fitter athletes to better compete with the big guys.

The recent shift isn’t sitting so pretty with competitors shaped more like the traditional greats.

 “Big players have their charms as well,” says Park Jeong-suk, 31, a 2018 national champion, whose current size of 315 pounds means he will have to retire early, or lose weight, once all the restrictions take hold.

It is a risky strategy to give just a handful of ssireum’s 1,700 athletes all the attention, says Lee Dong-hyuk, a college competitor, who weighs about 305 pounds. “I’m kind of scared this spotlight will disappear,” Mr. Lee says. “The focus is still all on the few handsome players.”

That also applies to the more compact competitors. Nicknamed the “short giant,” Yun Pil-jae, 25, stands about 5-feet-5 and weighs 187 pounds. His quick moves have won him lower-level titles. But they have yet to win him fans.

“To be frank, I feel disappointed because I’m not getting much attention,” Mr. Yun says.

The rejuvenation of South Korea’s traditional wrestling began in a near-empty arena last year. It was just like every other match—except the two baby-faced wrestlers happened to be handsome young men, who are among the slimmest ssireum competitors.

The match, uploaded online, quickly drew millions of views and attracted new fans like 25-year-old Kim Ara.

“I didn’t know ssireum players would be good looking—in fact, I didn’t know anything about the sport,” says Ms. Kim, an office worker in Seoul, who brings a professional-grade camera to matches.

The unexpected success from the viral video took ssireum organizers—and even the players involved—by surprise. Hwang Chang-sub, one of the video’s wrestlers, could only count his friends and family as fans for much of his athletic life. Now female fans chant his name at matches.

“It’s all a bit awkward because I’ve never experienced this before,” says Mr. Hwang, 22, who weighs 176 pounds.

Demand for the most attractive ssireum players has gotten so high that the sport’s organizers are now turning down the many offers from TV talk shows. Shifting to smaller players will usher in a return to skilled tacticians rather than rewarding bulk, making the sport faster and more exciting, the association says. There are plans to bring back a ssireum professional league for the first time in more than a decade.

The glamour grab is already remaking the sport. At the national tournament in November, some of the most popular ssireum competitors skipped the event. The reason: to focus on the coming TV show where the prize money is five times larger.

At the tournament, the section of raucous young fans, many of them women, toting cameras and presents, rubbed some old-time fans the wrong way.

“They’re just too noisy,” says Lee Hak-seung, 67, staring at the sign-holding cheer section. One sign, in support of a contestant, read: “He is gorgeous young rich tall and handsome.”

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Sounds like they've accidentally attracted a crowd that will most likely move on to the next "oh, shiny!" thing within a few years. That's not a problem for sports with a significant professional footprint which can always fall back on their established fanbase in a leaner phase, but when it's something like ssireum which doesn't seem to have sufficient core support to exist above semi-pro level... Let's just say I don't think they're going to be a beach volleyball-type success story with their new sex-appeal-first marketing.

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I guess it’s worth trying if there is a genuine belief this will grow the sport first and the won will follow. If this is just a short-term won grab, I’m not so certain it’s a good thing. I’ve spent some months in Korea and didn’t even know this was a thing, so maybe the audience just doesn’t know it exists. But, it is the “national sport” of Korea, so I have a hard time believing it is unknown there. Maybe an image makeover is what will draw the kids back, if they ever watched in the first place.

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Sounds like what they need to do is add weight classes like most other combat sports.

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The wrestlers are in a 7 meter circle with a belt tied around their waist and one thigh. They use this to force their opponent to put down a body part knee-level or above. They are not allowed to hit or slap like sumo. Pushing someone out of the ring isn’t a win, just a restart. Usually it’s best of three. There are 4 weight classes, max weight is 160 kg. According to Wikipedia, anyway.

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4 hours ago, Morningstar said:

Sounds like what they need to do is add weight classes like most other combat sports.

Although the great irony of weight classes is that it's usually still the heavyweights that attract the most attention. In men's sports anyway, not so much on the women's side, hypocritical as it may be.

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3 hours ago, Asashosakari said:

Although the great irony of weight classes is that it's usually still the heavyweights that attract the most attention. In men's sports anyway, not so much on the women's side, hypocritical as it may be.

That used to be the case but for the past decade or more boxing hasn’t had a major heavyweight star able to compete for attention with the Mayweathers and Pacquiaos. MMA too seems to give more attention to the leaner fighters like McGregor. At least, it seems that way to me as a casual observer of the sports, not a true fan.

Edited by Eikokurai

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I watched some videos and it's quite boring compared to sumo or any other martial art. Two guys starting the bout already locked up in the same inside-outside grip every single time. Dosukoi dancing is more exciting than most ssireum bouts i've seen. There are better ways to waste time. Watching cricket just to name one.

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Ssireum is a great sport and has good fights with a different dynamic than sumo and just like la lutte, bokh and pehlwani it demands a bit of cultural understanding to catch the full experience of such traditional types of wrestling. Also most of the good videos are in their native language.

 

The initiative to make wrestlers slimmer for looks and fame is wrong, it lacks respect and dignity. I would like to see fitter wrestlers for their health but their apparences shouldn't matter, such sports will never attract groupies like k-pop does, selling your soul for popularity is the curse of this era and its sad to see it overcoming tradition.

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2 hours ago, Benihana said:

I watched some videos and it's quite boring compared to sumo or any other martial art. Two guys starting the bout already locked up in the same inside-outside grip every single time. Dosukoi dancing is more exciting than most ssireum bouts i've seen. There are better ways to waste time. Watching cricket just to name one.

I feel the same about Mongolian wrestling. I'm sure there is much to appreciate about the techniques, but as a spectator sport it doesn't grab the attention in the way that sumo does, with it short bursts of speed, power and varied fighting styles. Never underestimate the value of diversity in sport.

Edited by Eikokurai

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2 hours ago, Yamanashi said:

Please, Mods, fix the spelling in the thread title.

 

33 minutes ago, Naganoyama said:

And do it soon-o.

Better the original poster edit it.

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2 hours ago, Otokonoyama said:

 

Better the original poster edit it.

I sent the original poster a message about it.  In the meantime, I found a hilarious Korean wrestling video on Youtube.  It's title, believe it or not, is "Korean Wrestling Final ...  Idol Star Championships!"  It is from 2016 and has almost 8 MILLION views!! lol  Lots of very handsome pop-star-looking boys with bleached and dyed hair.  And the audience!!!  Such screaming!  Reminds me of when the Beatles first came to the US!   Here it is ..... 

 

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Here's one more.  It shows a lot of the bouts in slow motion so you can really see what they're doing.  In this championship, the wrestlers are fighting on top of a LOT of sand! lol  There are plenty more videos like this one. 

 

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On 02/12/2019 at 23:58, Eikokurai said:

That used to be the case but for the past decade or more boxing hasn’t had a major heavyweight star able to compete for attention with the Mayweathers and Pacquiaos. MMA too seems to give more attention to the leaner fighters like McGregor. At least, it seems that way to me as a casual observer of the sports, not a true fan.

I meant more the weight classes as a whole, certainly for boxing. Guys like Mayweather and Pacquiao may be bigger attractions than any individual heavyweights, but I've never got the impression that they've been able to make their entire respective divisions transcend heavyweight in public attention. Is anybody pining for the next big welterweight star?

(Also, I had more than just combat sports in mind, e.g. weight lifting, strongman contests, etc..)

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21 minutes ago, Asashosakari said:

I meant more the weight classes as a whole, certainly for boxing. Guys like Mayweather and Pacquiao may be bigger attractions than any individual heavyweights, but I've never got the impression that they've been able to make their entire respective divisions transcend heavyweight in public attention. Is anybody pining for the next big welterweight star?

(Also, I had more than just combat sports in mind, e.g. weight lifting, strongman contests, etc..)

I see your point, yes. Heavyweight is generally the Formula 1 of boxing divisions, so to speak. It’s just going through something of a lean spell (joke unintended, but I’m keeping it) in terms of stars like Tyson used to be. That’s not to say there aren’t any, but they’re not putting boxing on the back pages like in the past.

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