Saturday, February 02, 2008


As the dust settles on the dohyo...

Leaving it almost a week before putting out my observations about the conclusion of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament makes my coverage almost as worthless as that of the Japan Times.

I say "almost" because- unlike those hacks- I do actually care about the sport.

Sadly, the Asa comeback victory wasn't to be: Hakuho's defeat at the hands of Ama (go Ama!) made the final day a one-shot deal between the two Yokozuna (grand champions), winner takes all.

And that was that: angry Asa bested. For his part, Hakuho had a magnificent tournament, winning bout after bout in imperious fashion (plus a fetching bronze mawashi.)

Ama took yet another "fighting spirit" award for downing Hakuho. In the interview afterwards he played down his chances of making the Ozeki rank, and not without good cause: although he goes after the Yokozuna like a tabloid hack, he tends to drop points against lower-ranked opposition.

Overall, though, the tournament was a winner: an intriguing rivalry is developing between the two Yokozuna and both are a great deal more fun to watch than the lumbering salad-dodgers of yesteryear.

For example check out this footage of Akebono vs Musashimaru:

See what I mean? It's like watching Michael Moore making love to Jabba the Hutt. Bearing in mind that these two were also Yokozuna, it's easy to see why interest in the sport declined. (Factoid: Akebono and Musashimaru had a combined weight of over 1000 lbs.)

I'm also aware that cynics amongst you may suspect that Sumo's declining popularity has less to do with falling technical standards than the fact that the Yokozuna are gaijin. However, seats at the New Year tournament were at a premium this time.

I can't wait for March.


Bonus: Ama takes down Hakuho, accompanied by hideous soundtrack.


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