Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
from Left field:
After the nightclub fracas that toppled a Mongolian grand champion from grace who would have thought it would take a former bouncer from Estonia to help clean up the mess in the troubled world of sumo?
The soft-spoken giant Baruto gave the ancient Japanese sport a shot in the arm after sealing his promotion to the sport's second highest rank of "ozeki" with a 14-1 showing at the spring grand sumo tournament less than two months after "yokozuna" Asashoryu quit in disgrace amid a "booze rage" probe.
The 1.98-metre tall, 190-kilogram Baruto narrowly missed out on his first Emperor's Cup as yokozuna Hakuho went unbeaten to claim his 13th major title in Osaka. "I was happy about the 14 wins but the one defeat hurt more," said Baruto, who will formally become the second European after Kotooshu in 2005 to ascent to the ozeki rank. When the baby Kaido Hoovelson was born in the northern Estonian town of Rakvere, near the Gulf of Finland in 1984, his country was still part of the Soviet Union. He later worked as a nightclub bouncer and he still demonstrates textbook "security guard" firmness in shoving out rivals with the no-nonsense sumo "yorikiri" (force out) technique.Asashoryu's sudden exit left a bad taste and the 25-times Emperor's Cup winner said he was hounded out of the sport by ultra-conservative forces within sumo's closeted world who feared a non-Japanese wrestler breaking former yokozuna Taiho's record of 32 set between 1960 and 1971.
Bad boy sumo grand champion Asashoryu has been called many things, but it’s unlikely whether being dubbed “porky” will cause the Mongolian star to lose much sleep.
When a former wrestler, now working as a television commentator, accused the “yokozuna” of being flabby, it marked a new low in the hounding of one of the greats of Japan’s ancient sport.
For not seeing a win since joining Formula One in 2002, Toyota‘s commitment to the sport is admirable, especially after Honda’s pullout in December left the team the last Japanese standing in the glamour sport.
Toyota have been one of F1′s biggest spenders, with an estimated annual budget of $300 million, previously exceeded only by Honda. But the question for the sport’s perennial underachievers remains just how much cash do they have left to burn?
A sumo wrestler was expelled from the ancient Japanese sport on Monday following his arrest for marijuana possession and just a day after U.S. Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps apologised over a photograph purportedly showing him smoking the drug.
The expulsion of Wakakirin, 25, comes after three Russian wrestlers met a similar fate last year over marijuana use, reflecting both Japan’s zero tolerance for the drug and the high standards of behaviour the Japan Sumo Association prides itself on demanding from its members.
Mongolian sumo grand champion Asashoryu is the self-styled bad boy of Japan’s ancient sport, a man who once yanked a rival’s hair before picking a soapy bathtub fight with the same opponent and later being accused of smashing the same wrestler’s car mirror.
To many seasoned sumo observers, he lacks the dignity required to hold sumo’s elite rank of “yokozuna”. To others, he is simply eccentric.