Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sumo Wrestling

I gots me some mad love for the sport of SUMO WRESTLING and not because I could hang out with these boys and not even stand out. In a country where the population tend to favor the smaller sizes of humanity, these men are giants not only physically but in terms of their popularity. They are as famous and loved like any rock or movie star in Japan and dress in tradition garb at all times thus they are immediately recognizable in public. They are expected to carry themselves with stoic dignity. A Sumo represents everything that is strong, noble and pure in Japanese society. Sumo Wrestling is an ancient sport that is much more than just one fat guy in a diaper pushing the other fat guy in a diaper out of a circular ring. There is also tradition and ritual to be found. Mock these boys at your peril. Its all about speed and power and at those sizes you best have both in good measure. Matches don't last more than 10 seconds but for that time the action can be intense. In recent years we have seen many more foreign born wrestlers fight in July's Grand Tournament which is held for 15 days each summer. Six such Grand Tournaments are held each year. For years I have followed the fortunes of 'gaijin'(foreigners) like Chad Rowen whose Japanese name is 'Akibono'. He was the first foreign born 'Yokozuna' or Grand Champion and achieved that honor is 1993. That position is very difficult to get as you must win two tournaments in a row to become not just a champion but a Grand Champion. Akibona was also always seen as someone who brought great honor to the sport because of the dignity and humility he always showed. As one commentator said "He makes me forget he is a foreigner because of his earnest attitude towards sumo. His photo is the one at top. Professional sumo wrestlers are required to live in communal sumo training stables' known in Japanese as 'heya' where all aspects of their daily lives—from meals to their manner of dress—are dictated by strict tradition. There is a strict hierarchy with the junior sumo being required to serve the more senior members of the wrestling 'stable'. Depending on how good your record is, a wrestler can be promoted or demoted in the rankings. It is the goal of all to reach the top rank of 'Yokozuna'. I had to contend myself with clip wrap up shows on satellite but this year I have been able to follow the entire tournament (Honbasho) with Bit Torrent (with ENLGISH commentary and analysis to boot!) This year is very exciting since a Bulgarian has risen in the ranks to face the best of the best for top spot.

1 comment:

Ricky Shambles said...

That is awesomeness. I've never seen it in person but viewed many a special on discovery channel and idiots who talk about "fat dudes" need to get in the ring with one of these guys. Their discipline is magnanimous and because of their diet and eating and exercise habits they are actually quite healthy, though heavy. The 300lb beast who chows Cheetos and stares at the teevee and mumbles - mouth full - "I could do that" would have his ass handed to him by any one of the pictured gentlemen. Great post.