Monday, July 26, 2004

Asashoryu, The Michael Schumacher of Sumo

Last weekend Yokozuna Asashoryu won his 4th Yusho (Championship) in 4 tournaments this year (This number corrected by thanks of Jakusotsu). This makes his 8th Yusho overall. Right now he is the only Yokozuna in Sumo, and it doesn't look like there'll be another one any time soon. Asa has dominated Sumo nearly as well as Michael Schumacher has dominated Formula 1.

Asa won the tournament with a 13-2 record. There really wasn't anyone who really pushed him. The current crop of Ozeki (Champion) is not likely to ever reach Yokozuna. Kaio is just to inconsistent. Chiyotaikai just can't beet Kaio or Asa. Musoyama can barely hold onto his Ozeki rank and Tochiazuma? Well, he's been injury prone lately and therefore unpredictable.

Of the young guys there's some potential. The last couple of Basho's have seen some aborted runs at making it into contention. Asasekiryu had an outstanding performance in the 3rd Basho coming in second to the Yokozuna. However, in the 4th he couldn't match the upper ranks and was destroyed. But this time there was a new rising star, Hokutoriki. He ran through the Basho winning against all of the Ozeki and even Asa fell in their first bout. On the last day of the Basho Hokutoriki had a chance to win it all but it seemed like nerves got to him and he lost forcing a playoff match against Asa. Well, toy don't beat the Yokozuna twice in one Basho so Asa took the Emperor's cup. The good showing, though, vaulted Hokutoriki up the ranks going into this last Basho. But, like Asasekiryu before him, he was decimated.

There are still some potential young guns, though. Hakuho seems to be doing very well and is steadily moving up the ranks. A personal favorite of mine is Kokkai. He's a big old Russian, well actually he's from Georgia, who has been turning heads since he's been in Sumo. His one weakness is his lack of technique. He only knows one move, the bull rush. If he hits you with it you're going down. But the more experienced Rikishi have seen this and adjusted accordingly. This last Basho he barley had a winning record. If he can learn some more Sumo he's got a real chance.

Lastly I want to talk about two ex-Ozeki's still plugging away. Miyabiyama and Dejima. About half of the Ozeki's who drop rank will retire, "going out on top" as it were. But some will keep going. They continue in Sumo until they are unable to compete. I kinda like Miyabiyama, though I don't know why. He had a very good Basho this time around so we'll have to see what his rank will be for the next one.

The bottom line, though, is that there are no Rikishi who can give the Yokozuna any kind of real competition. It's fun to watch someone dominate their sport in the way that Asa and Michael have. But unlike F1, Sumo will have a difficult time surviving with this kind of dominance. There must be someone who can take down Asa. Someone to step into the vacant Yokozuna slot. Maybe it's because Sumo is man-to-man, hand-to-hand, one guy fighting another in a circle on a raised mound of clay... It's like a gun fight in the old Westerns of Hollywood. You need a Black hat and a White hat shooting it out on the street. Right now Sumo has one guy standing in the street waiting for someone to step up and challenge him. So far, no one's been able to.


  1. Please note that it was his 4th Yusho in 4 tournaments this year. Aki and Kyushu are still to come...


  2. Thank you for catching that, Jakusotsu. Blog suitabily fixed.