Akebono's sumo retirement ceremony
January 5, 2002 8:32 PM   Subscribe

Akebono's sumo retirement ceremony American-born sumo Yokozuna Akebono retired from the sport Sepetember 29th in Kokogikan, Japan.

This excellent photo essay talks about a few of the 300+ people scheduled to help cut off the topknot, a little on the history of Sumo, and why he needs 8 men to help him with the belt tying ceremony.

Also a few good photographs of another American-born Yokozuna, Musashimaru, and one Japanese one, Takanohana.
posted by swenson (10 comments total)
what a terrific link! thanks, swenson.
posted by rebeccablood at 8:56 PM on January 5, 2002

Wow! I second that thanx. Great stuff.
posted by RavinDave at 9:10 PM on January 5, 2002

I love watching Sumo. Maybe someday I'll get the chance to see it live.

When Akebono first entered sumo, the mere idea that someone who was not Japanese would even compete in the sport was seen as scandalous. But for him to not only compete but to become Yokozuna was mind boggling. And then Musashimaru also became Yokozuna, that was even more amazing. Two American grand champions...

There's an wrestler named Kaio who a lot of people think will be the next Yokozuna. (I sure do.) He's already Ozeki and he has the economy that Takanohana has, always doing exactly what is needed to win but never more, and always, always stoic. That shows the degree of control he has, and to me indicates greatness. He's truly a pleasure to watch. (I've seen him beat Takanohana, which ain't easy.)

To outsiders it can seem as if sumo wrestlers are huge tubs of lard, but this is false. These men are immensely strong. Who else is capable of picking up an opponent who weighs 400 pounds, carrying him to the edge of the ring and then throwing him off the side of the platform? I've seen it happen.

Akebono is a giant of a man. He's 6'8" (203 cm) tall and while he was wrestling he weighed 512 pounds (233 kg).

When Iron Chef did the second Morimoto-Flay contest, Akebono was one of the panel members. We're used to seeing sumo wrestlers with others like them; to see them around normal people is a shock. He dwarfed everyone else. (The chefs gave him double-size servings of everything.)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:12 PM on January 5, 2002

That was really interesting. (For basic info on Sumo, I found these)

The hair-cutting ceremony was especially resonant for me; it's fascinating how symbolic hair is.
posted by mdn at 9:18 PM on January 5, 2002

Wow, a lot of sumo fans on me-fi.

I have to admit my only exposure to sumo is "Sumo Digest" on ESPN2, the web, and one sumo I met at a Greco Roman wrestling tournament.

I am amazed by the size and speed of the wrestlers, the hand techniques and the throws, and the intense impact at the start of the match. Their elaborate hair styles have so much caked on hair spray, they serve as helmets.

I used to have to wrestle my 320 pound wrestling coach when I was being too much of a smart ass [which was often]. All I can remember are brief periods of intense pain, and some somewhat longer periods of trying to push against a wall of fat/muscle. He had about a 70/30 muscle to fat ratio, and I was only 132 at the time.

Next time you watch Sumo digest, see how small the 320 pound wrestlers look. At 320 you can fit a clipboard in your pants pocket.

Here is a link to sumo ranking charts, and another tribute to Musashimaru.

If anyone knows of a good English language Japanese paper with news on sumo, drop a link.
posted by swenson at 9:44 PM on January 5, 2002

I was just writing an article about Yahoo, and mentioned that Akebono was the name of the Stanford workstation that held the data for the directory in the early days. It's easy to see why Jerry Yang was impressed by this giant Hawaiian. Thanks for the great link.
posted by bragadocchio at 10:52 PM on January 5, 2002


Ah, the good old days.

BTW, the waitresses at the coffee shop did not think much of the developers of Mosaic, because they constantly stiffed them, and never came back to make it up to them once they had "made it".

Yes, I live in C-U, no, I never worked at NCSA, yes, I had a ncsa.uiuc.edu mail account, and, oh, the stories I could tell....
posted by dglynn at 1:39 AM on January 6, 2002

Great link -- no sport in the world has as much odd pageantry and eccentric traditions. I kept up with it for a while when all three of the top Hawaaians were active (Konishiki, Akebono, and Musashimaru), but I can't find Today's Japan or another TV show now that offers daily updates during a basho.

If I recall correctly, Akebono was a high school football player (an offensive lineman) when he was recruited by another sumo wrestler. Some more American football players probably would try the sport if the requirements (physical and societal) weren't so grueling.
posted by rcade at 7:44 AM on January 6, 2002

Ah, man. Late night sumo won't be the same without Akebono.
posted by RakDaddy at 11:42 AM on January 6, 2002

Wonderful link!

My husband and I are big sumo fans, especially of Kaio. We've been watching him for the last couple of years, and have been worried about his ongoing injuries this year. Hopefully they won't continue to hamper him.

Even more interesting is the decline of Takanohana (through ongoing injury) and Musashimaru (through loss of form) over the last couple of bashos (especially Musashimaru who only posted a 9W 6L record in September, and didn't compete at all in the November basho). Could we actually be heading towards having no competing Yokozuna at all?
posted by elfgirl at 5:06 PM on January 6, 2002

« Older Did President Clinton have 3 chances to nab Bin...   |   AMERICA THE WEIRD Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments