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Posted (edited)

Just wanted to clear up the real name of Araiwa, Carroll Lee Martin, is my legal name, when I was a baby my sister couldn't pronounce it correctly and it always came out Cal, so it just stuck, when i got to Japan, it came out Carl. I've been called worse.

Cal

Edited by Jakusotsu
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Great to have a former rikishi on board! Welcome, Cal!

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I never knew this site existed, a good friend of mine, let me know there was confusion about my name and sent me your link, but what wasn't confusing about my time in Japan. Hard to believe that it has been 21 years ago, but i wouldn't trade that time of my life for anything. I hear Sumo as I knew it, has really changed, I was very sorry to hear when Hanakago's stable went under, but knowing that Wajima had taken it over, it didn't surprise me.

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Welcome to this wonderful place! I hope you become a regular visitor. Finally an (ex-)rikishi who can share his experience with us.

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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, Cal Martin said:

.... Hard to believe that it has been 21 years ago, but i wouldn't trade that time of my life for anything.

Welcome to the forum.  As a sumo fan and Japan resident in the 70's, you have triggered my interest.  A few questions:

1.  How did you become interested in sumo, and how did you find your way to Hanakago?

2.  You had a good record while you were active.  What prompted your intai?

3.  It looks like you spent an additional 30 years in Japan.  What were you doing during this period?

Edited by Asojima

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Well I can see, I screwed up already, it was 51 years ago. Well it wasn't like Sumo Wrestling was on my bucket list, I had never heard of it till I went to Japan. I played high school football when I could, my dad was a Marine, so I moved around a lot, like 4 different schools, so being the new kid never bothered me. When my dad got out of the Marines, he went to work for Westinghouse,(which i thought only made washing machines), but they were big into our defense systems. I knew my dad was big into radar, we got transferred to Ellis Airforce Base in Las Vegas, and i only spent a semester there, and he got transferred to Japan. No football there, so I moved in with my mother in Calif. After I graduated, my present was a round trip to Japan with my Grandmother. I had a Japanese stepmother at that time, my Dad had to rush home from the airport, so he could see the Sumo Digest on NHK, by the way that is the only way to watch, only fights, no ceremony. I told my stepmother, it didn't look that hard, she told me they would, kick my ass all the way back to Calif., so it was on, I'll be here all summer, you find a way and i will try it. One of her good friends was a secretary of a prominent lawyer, that knew Hanakago, you would have to know him like I knew him, but he said, sure bring him down, and that is how it all started. I never spent thirty years in Japan, and when I left, it was for good, and with his blessing. He and I were like father and son. I almost went back when he died, and almost again when Nishimouri, (KaiKets), died, they were the two best friends I had there, and a lot of memories. Wajima, was another story, and I am sorry that I helped recruit him into our stable. I would love to hear more about this club of yours. Is Jessi, (Takamiyama) still around?

Cal

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Posted (edited)
44 minutes ago, Cal Martin said:

 I almost went back when he died, and almost again when Nishimouri, (KaiKets), died, they were the two best friends I had there, and a lot of memories. Wajima, was another story, and I am sorry that I helped recruit him into our stable. I would love to hear more about this club of yours. Is Jessi, (Takamiyama) still around?

Cal

I was stationed in Japan for 6 years (Navy) and was an avid sumo fan the whole time I was there.  My favorites were Wajima (watched him, didn't live with him), Hasegawa, Kaiketsu, and Jessie.  Jessie retired in 1984, started Azumazeki heya and retired from that at 65 yoa.  He is still in Japan and still makes it into the news occasionally.  The word is that he has developed some serious health problems.

Edited by Asojima

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Kaiketsu, and were best of buddies, he actually taught me more than you can imagine, he came to the U.S. and visited me, we kept in touch till he died, he always wanted me to find another Cal and ship him over there. I went to a few functions at Yokohama, in fact i did my draft induction at Camp Zooma. I never knew Jessi very well, except we did a few parties at Yokota Air Base, very nice guy, did you know back then he had his vocal cords damaged in a bout and could only whisper. I can't believe how many people still keep up with all the Sumo stuff, I know they have had some rough times. I can tell you stories about Kaiketsu that would really make you laugh, he was the best.

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I met Jessie several times.  He was fun to be with.  His vocal cords were gone before I met him. 

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Yea Sumo is one sport that you do not hold back in, he was a really good guy, hope his health is okay, gosh we are all getting old.

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Posted (edited)

This is fascinating, thank you so much for finding the forum and being so receptive so far to questions, Cal!

As a westerner (I'm Australian) who was intrigued by sumo since childhood, but only earnestly discovered it and starting following it  recently (at around 30 years of age) I've always felt a pang of regret that I let it pass me by. If I had my time over again I'd like to think I'd have tried to find a place in a stable straight after high school here; but in reality I am fairly certain I could never have adjusted to stable life even if I did miracle a place in a heya. 

You've mentioned you have stories, I'm sure I'm just one of many who will say you're welcome to share them as often as you'd please, no matter how trivial they may seem to you! It'll be good to live vicariously and retroactively through you :).

Welcome!

Edited by Houmanumi

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Boy do I have plenty of stories, but i did this 51 years ago, you are right, the life style back then was very hard, keep in touch and i will tell you plenty, especially what is always kept a secret, but i am out of time right now, but look forward to chatting with you later.

Cal

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21 hours ago, Cal Martin said:

Boy do I have plenty of stories, but i did this 51 years ago, you are right, the life style back then was very hard, keep in touch and i will tell you plenty, especially what is always kept a secret, but i am out of time right now, but look forward to chatting with you later.

Cal

Cal,  I hope you will consider posting some of your stories publicly on Sumo Forum.  There are many of us who would love to hear them.  Even if you consider some of them to be trivial, I think they would all be endlessly fascinating to us.

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Well, I was considered, "The Bad Boy" of Sumo, but Hanakago loved the publicity, I had a bounty on my head, I got involved with the God Father of the Japanese mafia,(no fixing fights, he just liked to bet a lot), I also got my draft notice while over there, almost lost my left foot from gang green and blood poison, the list is pretty endless. Kaiketsu was the only one who was my real friend. I had to help recruit Wajima into our stable, which the Boss man dearly regretted. I have heard stories about fixing fights and all kinds of corruption among different guys, but all i can say it was totally on the up and up while I was there. Any questions you may have, I would be glad to answer.

Cal

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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, Cal Martin said:

Well, I was considered, "The Bad Boy" of Sumo, but Hanakago loved the publicity, I had a bounty on my head, I got involved with the God Father of the Japanese mafia,(no fixing fights, he just liked to bet a lot), I also got my draft notice while over there, almost lost my left foot from gang green and blood poison, the list is pretty endless. Kaiketsu was the only one who was my real friend. I had to help recruit Wajima into our stable, which the Boss man dearly regretted. I have heard stories about fixing fights and all kinds of corruption among different guys, but all i can say it was totally on the up and up while I was there. Any questions you may have, I would be glad to answer.

Cal

You've had a very interesting life!  Do you have any photos from your sumo years that you would like to post?  Why was there a bounty on your head?  Was it because of your relationship with the Yakuza?  What happened with your draft notice?  That would've been during 'Nam.  It's a good thing you survived gangrene and blood poisoning!  What happened to cause that?  Are you still in contact with Kaiketsu?  I'm only a year older than you but I didn't become enthralled by sumo until 2013, so Wajima was way before my time.  What didn't you like about him and why did your boss regret recruiting him?  Any stories about corruption and fight fixing would always be interesting and I think we would all love to hear more about that, as long as it wouldn't endanger you to talk about such things.  I hope you will post a lot of your stories.  After all, you had the inside scoop!

Edited by sumojoann

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Kaiketsu unwillingly took over the reins as rijicho during the match-fixing scandal. I wondered whether the stress of all that contributed to his early death.

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I certainly think it might have, he came over to the U.S. and was always wanting me to find another "Cal" for him, he thought that would maybe shift some of the attention off of all the scandals. He knew I was good friends with the Mafia, but that all came about as a accident(it's another whole story), and he knew I would never do anything dishonest or bad, but they bet heavy over there. I know he didn't want the position that they put him in. I was shocked when he died so suddenly. Obviously I never found him another wrestler from here, when you explain the pay scale at the beginning, and all the hard work involved, they would all pass. In my eyes, he was the best he saw me as a problem that he could fix.

Cal

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2 hours ago, sumojoann said:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaiketsu_Masateru

Unfortunately, I see that your friend Kaiketsu passed away in 2014.  I'm sorry.  He certainly had an interesting career.  True friends are few and far between.  You were lucky to have each other.

Yes, he was the best out of all that i met over there

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2 hours ago, sumojoann said:

You've had a very interesting life!  Do you have any photos from your sumo years that you would like to post?  Why was there a bounty on your head?  Was it because of your relationship with the Yakuza?  What happened with your draft notice?  That would've been during 'Nam.  It's a good thing you survived gangrene and blood poisoning!  What happened to cause that?  Are you still in contact with Kaiketsu?  I'm only a year older than you but I didn't become enthralled by sumo until 2013, so Wajima was way before my time.  What didn't you like about him and why did your boss regret recruiting him?  Any stories about corruption and fight fixing would always be interesting and I think we would all love to hear more about that, as long as it wouldn't endanger you to talk about such things.  I hope you will post a lot of your stories.  After all, you had the inside scoop!

Yes, I have had a great life, Sumo was just a small part of it, but a very good part, I was in the hospital at Yokota Air Base for a month or so with the gangrene, was supposed to miss a whole tournament, but i fought anyway and it turned out to be the most fun, we had a nine man playoff, we were all tied with a 6-1 record, and i won the whole thing. I have lots of photos, but i am not a tech guy, i wouldn't even begin to know how to post them.

Cal

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Thanks for sharing so much, Cal. 

You've mentioned your closeness with Kaiketsu; it looks like you two were pretty similar in rank during your time in sumo (the database is down so I'm working from memory a little). I have a few rapid fire questions that are all similar:

  • Did that rank similarity help your closeness, do you think?
  • Did anything change when he reached sekitori?
  • How was the hierarchy side of sumo? There have been quite a few cases that have made waves in the news these passed few  years of attendants being mistreated/beaten by senior wrestlers and the coaches themselves; did you witness or experience any of this? How did it compare to your football experience, for example?

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It's really funny, you hit the nail right on the head, as I was coming up through the ranks, it was our little joke, If i catch you, i am going to have my way with you. He always said that because of me, it pushed him harder and if you notice, when I hit his rank, he pushed into Juryo. Nothing changed when He got his sekitori status, in fact i think we worked out harder. Yes there were a lot of their rules I didn't like, if anyone was a higher rank than you, you were at their mercy, you had to do what ever they said, it is a incentive for you to move up, and then you could tell them what to do. I did witness plenty of the abuse, I personally would get in trouble for not participating, I really  got it once when I stood up and got into a real fight with a higher ranking wrestler, actually two of them, they came in drunk at 4:30 in the morning, got most of us lower ranking ones up, ( we got up at 5:30 anyway), but when they started beating them real bad, I found a 2x4 and got both of them. There were 58 in our stable, most were pretty good, but there is always some bad apples in the barrel. It is hard to compare this sport to football, any sport you are in, and if you want to be successful, you have to push yourself to the brink. When practice was over, Hanakago's daughter would get her Toyota out, and i would push it for a hour, through the back streets, i wore shoes that weighed 20lbs a piece, for my everyday wear. I do have plenty of pictures, but don't know how to post them, not a good tech savvy guy.

Cal

 

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On 09/10/2020 at 08:34, Cal Martin said:

It's really funny, you hit the nail right on the head, as I was coming up through the ranks, it was our little joke, If i catch you, i am going to have my way with you. He always said that because of me, it pushed him harder and if you notice, when I hit his rank, he pushed into Juryo. Nothing changed when He got his sekitori status, in fact i think we worked out harder. Yes there were a lot of their rules I didn't like, if anyone was a higher rank than you, you were at their mercy, you had to do what ever they said, it is a incentive for you to move up, and then you could tell them what to do. I did witness plenty of the abuse, I personally would get in trouble for not participating, I really  got it once when I stood up and got into a real fight with a higher ranking wrestler, actually two of them, they came in drunk at 4:30 in the morning, got most of us lower ranking ones up, ( we got up at 5:30 anyway), but when they started beating them real bad, I found a 2x4 and got both of them. There were 58 in our stable, most were pretty good, but there is always some bad apples in the barrel. It is hard to compare this sport to football, any sport you are in, and if you want to be successful, you have to push yourself to the brink. When practice was over, Hanakago's daughter would get her Toyota out, and i would push it for a hour, through the back streets, i wore shoes that weighed 20lbs a piece, for my everyday wear. I do have plenty of pictures, but don't know how to post them, not a good tech savvy guy.

Cal

 

We love your stories, Cal!!  I hope you will keep them coming.  Can you tell us about how you became good friends with the Yakuza?

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