Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

A Ray of Sumo Sunshine

June 4th, 2009 · 6 Comments

These are somewhat dark days for sumo, with a celebrated trainer about to serve six years in prison for the bizarrely violent hazing death of one of his pupils. (It involved beer bottles, metal bats, and rubber hoses.) And the sport’s still reeling from a drug scandal, albeit one that would cause little outrage in virtually any other country.

Riding to the rescue, though, is Mongolian-born up-and-comer Harumafuji, who formerly grappled under the name Ama. The 25-year-old just won his first Emperor’s Cup, and has his sights set on becoming a yokozuna (“grand champion”). If and when he accomplishes that admirable feat, he’ll join a growing pantheon of Mongolian-bred sumo stars; sons of the Land of the Khans have become to sumo what Dominicans are to baseball (i.e. dominant).

There are plenty more video highlights from the Emperor’s Cup at Chuchai’s BARUTO Mania, an English-language blog dedicated to the flesh-undulating splendors of sumo.


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6 Comments so far ↓

  • Gramsci

    Great bout– it augurs well for the “Haku-Haru era.” (Microkhan is kind in granting “English language” status to that site’s Japanese t-shirt prosody). Couldn’t help but reminisce about watching ESPN’s late 90’s airings of different bashos, and the terrifying calm of this ghost-faced killer:

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Gramsci: Great, great bout–and one of the few times I’ve seen Akebono get faced. The thing I love about sumo is that it’s not divided into weight classes, so you often get the spectacle of obviously smaller dudes using their skill to win versus men who outweigh them by 100 pounds or more.

    Just as the race doesn’t always go to the swift, the sumo bout doesn’t always go to the fat. Er, sorry–“portly.”

  • buskertype

    I saw him wrestle live in tokyo when he was still “Ama.” I think he was beaten that day, but the next day on television we watched him beat Asashoryu (spelling?) by ducking out of the way when the big guy lunged at him. I think Asashoryu landed about three rows deep in the crowd, it was the most amazing thing I ever saw. Apparently the Japanese thought it was bad sportsmanship, but my western friends and I loved it.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @buskertype: Wow, you saw him in the Ama days, huh? That’s like seeing Lew Alcindor before he became Karee. No question, this guy’s gonna be a yokozuna someday.

    Funny that the Japanese spectators thought his move was bad sportsmanship. As I’ve always understood it, such tactics are by no means verboten in sumo. Perhaps a Japanese wrestler wouldn’t have suffered similar disapproval.

  • buskertype

    He’s amazing, although I have to admit that the fact that having the only name I could pronounce among the top tier wrestlers may have influenced my instant fandom. I still haven’t learned his new name.

    I wonder if they’ve kept records of the wrestlers’ weights for a long time and if there’s ever been a sub 300lb yokozuna?

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @buskertype: Ask and ye shall receive!:


    Lightest seems to have been Tochigiyama Moriya (d. 1959), a mere wisp of a man at 228.8 pounds.