Foreigners bring appetite for trouble

first_img ratment 70The lesson from comparing sumo and cricket is that the UK shows itself to be more flexible and cosmopolitan than a Japan which still regards change and foreigners with suspicion.Really? Is this the real lesson or is it just one of the usual cliches written about Japan? I think football makes quite a good point of comparison. Before the 2002 World Cup one of the more popular stereotypical images in the Japanese media was that all English people were football hooligans. I don’t think many English people would agree that football hooliganism should be used to define English attitudes to foreigners and how English people behave in a foreign country. So why do you think the example of Sumo can be used to define Japanese attitudes to “change” and “foreigners”?Well, I suppose you do have the benefit of having “passed through Japan over the last 30-odd years” to call on in making your sweeping statements. Report Share on Pinterest Since you’re here… Report Threads collapsed Share lovingu Close report comment form Share on Facebook Reply Comments 14 Share Share Asashoryu: the bad boy of sumo. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images Facebook Support The Guardian Reply Reply Please select Personal abuse Off topic Legal issue Trolling Hate speech Offensive/Threatening language Copyright Spam Other Facebook Harry Pearson Reply Report Reply Shares00 Share on Facebook Report Facebook Share on Messenger Report Jay73 Share via Email Share on Facebook Share on Facebook CLM76 – Spindly Otter of Stepovers is genius. As for Rooney, though, somebody here referred to him as the Assassin-faced Baby – I think I’ll stick with that one.Has anybody here noticed that Harry looks like Billy Bragg? I thought not… | Pick 25 Share Share on Twitter CLM76 Foreigners bring appetite for trouble | Pick Share on Twitter Report hungrymanjosh Tokyoperson 3 Oct 2008 12:41 Sport Facebook Twitter Share on Facebook Sport Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Foreigners hold sway in sumo wrestling, a situation eerily reminiscent of the current state of the Premier League Facebook Share Wrestling Facebook 0 1 Any excuse to get get a dig at Newcastle in will do it would seem.Was it really necessary to have a photo of Lardy Clutterbuck and Biffa McToon, fighting over the last meat’n’potato pie at the Gallowgate PeasePud bar, to lead this article?Gratuitous. Twitter Share on Twitter Reply Sorry there was an error. Please try again later. If the problem persists, please contact Userhelp First published on Thu 2 Oct 2008 19.03 EDT Twitter | Pick Share on LinkedIn Re: Robinho – Spindly Otter of StepoversA nickname for a nickname? 3 Oct 2008 20:07 Twitter Makes alot of sense, if you had to spend that much time eating getting stoned would seem an effective method! munchies!Not sure eating 200 chocolate bars in a row’s the ideal diet though!Interesting you didnt mention the trainee sumo wrestler getting beaten to death and Wakanoho breaking the mafia-esque code of silence, thought they add depth to the problems – though the beating occured in a Native sumo stables and was not caused by foriegners so that dosent back up your article!If i was a sumo wrestler id wear a rooney shirt, lot more appropriate then a ronaldo one!;) Report Reply 0 1 Share Share Share on Facebook Britain is culturally very different from JapanA post-imperial nation known for politeness and emotional reserve, inhabiting a group of rainy, overcrowded islands on the edge of a continent? Yes, very different.Surely we should try to come up with similar nicknames for Premier League footballers.Robinho – Spindly Otter of StepoversLampard – Sad-Eyed Badge-Kissing SpanielWalcott – The Swift ButterflyRooney – Shining Northern Whitenessetc. Share on Facebook 3 Oct 2008 20:41 | Pick 0 1 plectrum 3 Oct 2008 18:01 Facebook Share on Twitter 5 Oct 2008 9:33 Reply Superb. Incidentally, when the big man got busted for playing football while injured, he was wearing a England or possibly Manchester United shirt with the Rooney written on the back. … we have a small favour to ask. The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. 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Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Share on Twitter 50 Report Report All 3 Oct 2008 18:22 Order by oldest Thu 2 Oct 2008 19.03 EDT 0 1 3 Oct 2008 22:15 Share on Facebook Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Facebook | Pick This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs. 3 Oct 2008 21:52 Share on Twitter Reply Twitter 3 Oct 2008 15:35 comments (14)Sign in or create your Guardian account to join the discussion. Twitter I’m sure that “Billy Two Rivers” was his real name, Twitter ratment70 Sign in or create your Guardian account to recommend a comment Sportblog Share on Twitter Share on Facebook | Pick oldest So nicknames, then.More of a sobriquet than a nickname. Share on Facebook Twitter Report Share on Facebook Twitter Sportblog Share CLM76 3 Oct 2008 21:43 Topics the rikishi’s names are not “nicknames” ferchrissake: they are shikona, or fighting names (think Brazillian footballers)So nicknames, then. unthreaded Share | Pick Reply Share on Twitter Oh God, another journalist who knows nothing about sumo bringing out all the cliches and cut and pasting from the Japan Times.Why do we always hear the “Asashoryu, bad-boy of sumo” line, when this is the exact racisit line that is taken by the Japanese media? The media don’t hate him because he’s a “bad boy” (there are lots of examples of “badly” behaved Japanese wrestlers: Toki killed someone in his car, yokozuna Kitanofuji went surfing in Hawaii when he should have been on tour, yokozuna Futahaguru had his topknot cut-off for beating his stable master’s wife, Kitanoumi (the former richijo) was arrested for groping a waitress etc.) but because he is that good that they are scared he is going to break the records of their sumo gods and will do anything to undermine him.Notice how the allegations of bout-rigging against Asashoryu first surfaced (in the Shukan Gendai, mind, which is the Japanese equivalent of The Sunday Sport) just after Asa had won his 20th tournament (making him only the 5th wrestler to reach this target and which is somethinjg of a holy grail in the sport). Match-fixing occurs in sumo, of course (it always has done- it’s nothing to do with foreigners), but Asashoryu buying his way to 20 yusho?! Come on, in his prime, he could have slaughtered the guys he’s alleged to have bribed in his sleep. Did you ever see him fight, Harry? No, thought not.I could go on but I won’t. Harry, do some proper research before you inflict this crap on us and don’t trivialize the very real racism that is present in Japan. Incidentally, Kyokushuzan, who you mentioned, retired two years ago and is now a polititian in Mongolia and the rikishi’s names are not “nicknames” ferchrissake: they are shikona, or fighting names (think Brazillian footballers). Oh, and the trend for sideburns was started in the 1970s with Takamiyama and continued by Toki and Takanotsuru.OK, I’ll stop. 0 1 3 Oct 2008 16:27 0 1 Report Reply Report 3 Oct 2008 21:26 Facebook Twitter LondonLouis Share on Twitter In the summer sumo’s grand champion Asashoryu used his position as head of the wrestlers’ union to call for a 10% pay increase for his members. Sumo wrestlers haven’t had a pay rise since 2001 – when they were awarded a whopping 3% – and according to Asashoryu they needed the extra to cover the rising cost of food staples such as “bread, rice and cooking oil, mayonnaise and beer”. Asashoryu has my sympathy. After all, when your ideal fighting weight is 25 stone, a couple of pence on the price of a packet of biscuits is going to have a considerable impact on your lifestyle.The Japan Sumo Association responded to Asashoryu’s appeal with a silence so frosty it might yet prove the solution to global warming. It is fair to say that as far as the JSA is concerned Asashoryu is skating on thin ice. And thin ice is no place for a man of his size.You see, Asashoryu has spent the past four years becoming one of the most successful rikishi in history while simultaneously building up a reputation as the bad boy of the sport. Admittedly this is a title that is a good deal easier to earn in the conservative world of sumo than it would be in, say, professional boxing where even to qualify as a “troubled personality” you need a rap sheet as long as Shaquille O’Neal’s arm.Nevertheless, Asashoryu has done his best, irritating the authorities with a run of misbehaviour that includes pulling an opponent’s top-knot, arguing with a judge, brawling in the post-match communal bath, getting drunk after a row with his trainer over his wedding arrangements, making public appearances wearing a suit instead of traditional Japanese dress and appearing in a televised charity football match alongside Hidetoshi Nakata when he was supposed to be recovering from a back injury.Most damaging for Asashoryu were allegations that he had fixed matches, paying opponents £3,318 to let him win. The claims first surfaced a year ago, but they were brought back into focus this week when another sumo wrestler, Wakanoho, claimed that he had been paid to lose fights. A few weeks back Wakanoho had made what appeared a robust bid to snatch the bad-boy-of-sumo tag from Asashoryu, becoming the first wrestler to be banned for life. The ban was imposed after police found a “cannabis cigarette” in his wallet. It should be said that police only had the wallet because Wakanoho had reported it missing and asked them to look for it on his behalf. Wakanoho (who bears a marked resemblance to Elvis in his twilight years) denies that the offending item was his. You might be tempted to believe him on the grounds that it seems unlikely anyone would seek police help to find his illegal drugs. However, since Wakanoho is a professional sportsman such action cannot be entirely discounted. Wakanoho has responded to the ban by proclaiming his desire to “make the sumo world clean again” by spreading the scandal around a bit. Asashoryu is a Mongolian from Ulan Bator. His real name is Dolgorsuren Dagvadorj. Asashoryu is his nickname. It means Blue Dragon of the Morning. The Japanese, it is fair to say, take a more artistic approach to nicknames than British footballers. Wakanoho’s given name is Soslan Gagloev. He is a Russian. Two other wrestlers who tested positive for marijuana last month are also Russian. They also deny any wrongdoing.These days foreigners dominate sumo. The problem is that the life of a sumo wrestler is tough and it seems not many Japanese youngsters have, well, the stomach for it. As a result there are now Chinese, Bulgarians, Brazilians, Hawaiians as well as Russians and Mongolians in this once enclosed world.The wrestlers from Mongolia such as Asashoryu, his compatriot and fellow grand champion Hakuho, and Kyokushuzan, who is known to his countrymen as “The Supermarket of Tricks”, are the most successful. The Mongolians have their own tradition of wrestling and they are not put off by the rigours of sumo training. But then when you come from a country where temperatures can drop to -50C and the most widely available alcoholic drink is fermented mare’s milk, you doubtless learn to cope with most things.While some commentators hail the outsiders as a breath of fresh air, others are not so welcoming. Just as some English pundits blame the influx of “continentals” into the Premier League for everything from the failure of the national team to the prevalence of diving, there are Japanese who insist that all of sumo’s ills, from the fashion for long sideburns among the wrestlers to the increasing number of empty seats at the basho, are the fault of incomers. Xenophobia is never pleasant, and yet there is something paradoxically universal about it. Britain is culturally very different from Japan and so, while it is not to be applauded, neither is it entirely discomfiting to know that somewhere in Tokyo the Japanese equivalent of Rodney Marsh is saying, “To be fair, the Samoan lad has done very well, so far. But the cherry trees are still in leaf. Let’s wait and see how much he fancies it on a February night in Hokkaido when the weather’s so cold it’s freezing the proverbials off of a proboscis monkey”. Share 3 Oct 2008 14:53 collapsed Facebook Twitter Share via Email Many thoughts. Is it wrong to speculate that Bengoshi had a message deleted for suggesting Asashoryu having Rooney on his back was a reference to his disturbed state of mind and not to a Man Utd player…?Other Sumo style nicknames:Harry Pearson – Folk Doppelganger Purveying Beautifully-Crafted Nonsense Which Receives Wide Circulation To The Surprise of ManyJoe Kinnear – Heart Attack Waiting To HappenMichael Owen – One Eye On The River Card, The Other On The Exit Door | Pick Report 0 1 Facebook Share on Twitter | Pick Twitter Facebook Reply Share on Twitter Facebook Email (optional) Share on WhatsApp Loading comments… Trouble loading? Twitter blogposts Share on Facebook | Pick expanded 0 1 Share 100 | Pick Reply Show 25 Share on Facebook newest 0 1 Share on Twitter Share on Twitter 0 1 4 Oct 2008 18:14 recommendations Share Ratment 70 is probably justified in suggesting that Harry was being amusing about a phenomenon which is more complex than he assumes.I can’t claim to be a sumo specialist, though I’ve caught it on television whenever I’ve passed through Japan over the last 30-odd years.I suspect that Ratment is right in stressing the racist background to some of the recent treatment of Asashoryu. However, what really strikes me is how little about sumo has apparently changed while I’ve been sporadically watching it – apart from the steady arrival of foreign fighters. The staging, the clothing, the rituals all refer back three or four centuries and clearly link back to a religious/mystical sense of Japanese identity.The comparison with football in Britain is not really the interesting one. I would argue that comparing the apparent stasis of sumo with the continued evolution of cricket tells you much more about the contrasting nature of these two island monarchies. Cricket has its share of rituals, and certainly has been seen as one of the building blocks of English-ness (not sure about “British-ness”). The difference between Japan and the UK, is that the form of cricket has been allowed to evolve as commercial pressures have dictated, and the great foreign cricketers playing over here have been given their due. I’m not sure the Indian princes playing in the early 1900s really count, but the Learie Constantines and the 3 W’s were accepted as cricketing masters in the 1940s and 1950s, despite the colour of their skins.The lesson from comparing sumo and cricket is that the UK shows itself to be more flexible and cosmopolitan than a Japan which still regards change and foreigners with suspicion.A heavy response to a light-hearted piece. Jay73 | Pick pierrelemer darashinai 0 1 0 1 | Pick Share Bengoshi Report ratment70 Reuse this content,View all comments > Sumo wrestling 0 1 Reason (optional) View more commentslast_img

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