Did I not post here a couple of months ago that sumo is the next big wave? That it was just poised on the cusp of being one of the most noticed new sports, that it is just about to take off?
I believe I did right here.
Well, dun-dun-dun! My prediction came true! Maybe not in the way I originally imagined, but like politicians often say, no press is bad press. When public awareness goes up, it goes up.
The August 12 issue of Time Magazine featured a fantastic slide show on sumo's woes entitled "The Changing Face of Sumo Wrestling." Included is a great black and white pic of Baruto in the ring (love the smiling sumo.) Plus, there are a lot of the pictures of young men who are going into training. I love that the reporter calls the mawashi diaper thingy a "loin cloth belt" and that the high school kids are going shirtless at school. Who knew?
Go to the link and check out the pictures and captions. A lot of it repeats what I've posted about below, but the pictures really make it come alive!
There was a second article this week called "Cleaning Up Sumo." It's not available in its entirety online yet, but the blurb gives a hint about the way wrestlers come up through the training process, beginning even as pre-teens. It's a little disturbing. I had no idea they "farmed" them so young. Kinda icky in the text.
The phrase that struck me most was a quote from the high school sumo coach when he said parents used to send their sons to the sumo stables to make sure they got enough to eat. Now Japanese kids get plenty to eat at home and are too soft to sumo. (I'm paraphrasing.) They don't want to work that hard, he said. Times change.
High school sumo teams.
Maybe it's coming soon (in the next three decades!) to a high school near you.