AntonioG

Mongolians in Sumo

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I am an American professor in Mongolia, doing a report on Mongolians in sumo. I would love to hear what sumo fans feel about the Mongolians. Are they generally accepted? If so, why? Also, why do you believe they do so well in Sumo?

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I assume you're talking about Grand Sumo, since you're here in the Ozumo forum. I'm an American and don't speak Japanese so although I've been on many extended trips to Japan I've never really gotten to have this conversation with Japanese folks.

Here's what I can say. There are conspiracy theories about the JSA and the Japanese in general being prejudiced against foreign wrestlers, especially Mongolians. But if you look at the history, there isn't really any evidence to substantiate that the JSA limits the progression of foreigners at all. And while, yeah, there are 'bad apples' in every society, I don't get any of that vibe when I try to talk sumo with the Japanese side of my family.

As for why Mongolians do so well, there is some general consensus on that. The JSA has a rule that a heya (stable/training facility) can only have one foreign wrestler, which limits Grand Sumo to about 100 foreign wrestlers total. So while, as a Japanese, pretty much anyone who really wants to do sumo can get in, as a foreigner you really need to be the best of the best to get into a heya. Since most of the foreign wrestlers currently are from Mongolia, the result is it seems like Sumo is full of Mongolian superstars. Which is true, but as a fan you need to understand that, for better or worse, it was set up to be that way.

Youtuber SumoStew put out a video recently called Why You Don't See Hawaiian Sumo Wrestlers Anymore that talks about the rise of Mongolian wrestlers. Check it out if you want: 

 

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34 minutes ago, Deaf Cicada said:

there isn't really any evidence to substantiate that the JSA limits the progression of foreigners at all. 

The JSA has a rule that a heya (stable/training facility) can only have one foreign wrestler

You're contradicting yourself.

The system needs a change, but how to do that is a tough question i can't answer properly. A sumo culture outside Japan would definitely help. Foreigners having a background in serious school/club sumo, would be a thing to consider for the JSA. This would also mean, that those who want to try ozumo, know better what awaits them on a daily basis, and probably have already picked up learning the language. We've seen a good share of guys who couldn't cope with the life off-dohyo.

4 hours ago, AntonioG said:

I am an American professor in Mongolia, doing a report on Mongolians in sumo. I would love to hear what sumo fans feel about the Mongolians. Are they generally accepted? If so, why? Also, why do you believe they do so well in Sumo?

I don't think they are generally accepted, but the younger and more accustomed the fans are to the global community, the higher the acceptance is. Like it is almost everywhere on this beautiful blue marble.

Talent, luck, perseverance and not to forget networking. Luck, that many of the chosen had the talent and the willpower to persevere. And it helps to grow up in harsh conditions. Hakuho wasn't born in a yurt on the steppe, but he was no stranger to a life on horseback, far from "civilization". If you can survive that, you can survive sleeping on tatami in the same room with 5/6/7 - or more - other guys...and you can the shit they throw at you as greenhorn, especially a foreign greenhorn.

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I bet this has been pointed out before but... If the one-foreigner rule had been in place in 2001 Hakuho would not have been able to join Miyagino as they already had a Mongolian, namely Ryuo. As that stable was Davaarjargal's last hope, he would probably have gone home and pursued a different career.

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15 hours ago, AntonioG said:

Also, why do you believe they do so well in Sumo?

Because they come from a culture with a strong wrestling tradition of their own? (Like you have it also with Bulgarians, Georgians and Ossetians, who happened to turn up as well). Additionally, motivation? I wrote a small opinion section to that effect way back. Not that I was telling any news. [Fair warning to snowflake members: it's on ST]

Edited by yorikiried by fate
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12 hours ago, yorikiried by fate said:

Because they come from a culture with a strong wrestling tradition of their own? (Like you have it also with Bulgarians, Georgians and Ossetians, who happened to turn up as well). Additionally, motivation? I wrote a small opinion section to that effect way back. Not that I was telling any news. [Fair warning to snowflake members: it's on ST]

I must read more of the ST archives. These days it's just the sound of a man repeatedly banging his head against the wall and waiting for the echo.

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