Saturday, May 29, 2010

And the (May 2010) Winners Aren't....

Or, as the Japanese word for it is, "Shokk-ku!"

Of the three featured winners for the 2010 May Tournament in Tokyo NOT ONE OF THEM IS JAPANESE!

I find this very surprising. As a pretty new follower of the sport, I don't know how many times this has happened in the past. All the big sumo-stats fans probably could set me straight on this, but for now I'll just sit here with my jaw dropping open and eyes peeled  back, bugging out.

In FACT, these guys barely look like sumo wrestlers. The two who won the fighting spirit prizes look a lot more like pro wrestlers in the fashion of Jesse Ventura and Hulk Hogan. Aran is from Russia, and Tochinoshin is from Georgia. Check them out here on the official page of the Goo Sumo Grand Tournament. (I just love that the first word in their title looks like goo. I'm pretty sure it's pronounced "go" with a prolonged long o. Less chortle-inducing; too bad.) If you have QuickTime you can watch the clip of their interviews. Funnnn!

It looks like it would be pretty inevitable for the champs these days to be foreigners. Out of the Makuuchi ranks (of which there are about 42 total unless I miscounted) eleven (count 'em, eleven) are from Mongolia. That's a hefty chunk.

And that Hakuho! He's the man these days. He walked away from the May tournament with his 6th win of 15-0. That means he never lost a bout. Not one. Whewee. He's tough.

So, why all the gaijin? If this is the national sport of Japan, why aren't the Japanese men dominating this sport? Shokk-ku, right?

I guess I'd better do some digging, so I can relieve some of this shock. Meanwhile, here's a link to the results of the whole tournament. And here's a link to a video of highlights of the matches on day 9 of the tournament, along with some great commentary involving the phrases, "Hakuho keeps his cool," and "Baruto avoids biting the dust." Lovvve it.

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