Part I: I know we Sumotalkers can be retards at times... | Click here for Part II
Ever get the feeling that you're just writing the same things over and over and over? I could swear I've had this feeling for three or four basho now. Fortunately, a tabloid
magazine in Japan run by a bunch of retards has given us something to laugh about. If you haven't heard yet, the February 3rd edition of the Shukan Gendai tabloid hit newsstands the day after the basho with this ridiculous article alleging that 11 of Asashoryu's 15 opponents in Kyushu agreed to throw their bouts against the Yokozuna helping him to achieve a perfect 15-0 record.
Before I comment on the story itself, let me give you a little background on the Shukan Gendai magazine. I was first exposed to it back in 1994 while working at the Fukuoka City Hall. Our building had a bank on the first floor, so of course, I was able to take care of all of my banking needs...during work hours no less! If you've never banked in Japan, the process goes like this: you walk in and take your transaction up to the window where you hand it off to the person behind the counter. The person behind the counter will be wearing long sleeves and by law has to wear these wire springy thingies on both arms at the elbows, which do something or other. Anyway, you hand your crap off and go sit down in the waiting area until you are called back up to the window. In the waiting area you will always see these tabloid magazines, and Shukan Gendai may just be the most popular. Your choices are to either thumb through the tabloid magazines or to be impressed by the security guard standing in the lobby who by law has to be at least 75 years old and heavily armed...with a flashlight. Anyway, one day I picked up the magazine and began to thumb through it and noticed the first few pages were these glossies of nude chicks. Just like that...free porn...at the bank no less! Being the smart person that I am, I quickly deducted that if a non-porno magazine has to put photos of nude chicks in it to get your attention then the rest of the magazine's content must suck. Shukan Gendai has just validated that theory by posting this article about Asashoryu.
Okay...so let's suppose the allegations in the article are real. Who are the four rikishi most likely to NEVER EVER throw a bout against Asashoryu? Chiyotaikai for sure. The dude is fading, but he has his pride. Throw Tochiazuma in there as well for the same reasons and even Kaio. Okay, those are three obvious choices, right? Wrong. Apparently, the four rikishi who fought the Yokozuna legitimately were Aminishiki, Iwakiyama, Futenoh, and Kisenosato. The author states that these four rikishi are famous for refusing to throw bouts and that he spotted points in the other 11 bouts where the rikishi intentionally lost. And, no, I'm not making any of this up. On the surface, the author is saying that Asashoryu arranged for 11 of his 15 bouts to be thrown, but by stating that, he also implies the following:
* Chiyotaikai, Tochiazuma, Kaio, Miyabiyama, Kotomitsuki, Kotoshogiku and Asashoryu's other five opponents are bout fixers as well
* The oyakata of all of these rikishi are on board with the conspiracy. Hell, if some nerd who needs to spend more time on the internet trying to meet girls can tell, you KNOW the oyakata can tell as well
* The Sumo Association WANTS Asashoryu to continue kicking ass so he can surpass former Japanese greats on the all-time yusho list...something that will start happening this year
Despite those three points, the clincher that the article is completely false is this:
* If significant bout fixing is taking place, we will undoubtedly tell you about it
If a rikishi like Chiyotaikai was all of sudden mysteriously winning his bouts and finishing 14-1 basho after basho, I can see the motive to have his opponents throw their bouts against him to build up a Japanese yin to counter Asashoryu's yang. But favoring a Mongolian...in Japan? Balderdash!
The reality is that Japan is gripping hard because there is no end in sight to the foreigners' domination of their sport. With this article, they can now choose to convince themselves on the surface that they really aren't being dominated because Asashoryu's run is illegitimate, but just below the surface, we all know (the Japanese included) what a pile of crap the article is. Actually, I would be shocked if more than 20% of the Japanese people couldn't see right through this shitty piece of journalism. On one hand, I can see a loser making up such ridiculous allegations, but actually having an editor approve it as well and the company willing to take the gamble of getting their asses sued is incomprehensible to me. Ever heard of the Kodansha publishing company? They own the Shukakn Gendai tabloid, so they're on the hook as well. If there was any meat to this story, it would stay atop the headlines for some time to come, but it's going to fade faster than that hip Latin dude, Ricky Martin.
As of this writing, the Sumo Association is conducting its own internal investigation and speaking with Asashoryu's opponents in Kyushu. And to no one's surprise, the Association has a lawyer present. Furthermore, all rikishi who have been questioned so far deny the allegations. Of course they deny them because they're completely false. Here's what it boils down to: you have 12 rikishi vs. one retard who writes for the Shukan Gendai. Who were the dude's moles within the organization that fed him the info? Also, at what point did Asashoryu's string of legitimate yusho cease and these fake yusho begin? You can go on and on just ripping this story apart because it has as much credibility right now as that leader of North Korea who wears a dead animal on his head. Stay tuned for any updates regarding this breaking news. In the meantime, I'm off to Vegas for a coupla days. Watch for my post-basho report sometime over the weekend. You can bet it will be full of fascinating takes regarding the Hatsu basho...or not.
Part II: I can't believe it...they actually asked the girl to dance
As we anticipate pre-basho keiko reports in Osaka, you know it's a bad sign when the Tokitsukaze Ichimon holds a joint keiko session and the only news we get out of it is that Toyonoshima will have some tofu named after him. Before I get to work on my pre-basho report, just thought I'd add a second part to my blog entry on the allegations from the tabloid Shukan Gendai that nearly 80% of Asashoryu's bouts are fixed.
It's been just over five weeks now since the tabloid launched their initial stink bomb (yes, they actually had follow up articles after that, but those had the same impact as the Karate Kid III sequel), and what we are led to believe is that Asashoryu arranged to have 11 of his 15 bouts thrown in Kyushu and 12 of his 15 bouts thrown in Hatsu. We've all bandied about the obvious questions like:
- Does Asashoryu really need help to win 80% of his bouts?
- Why does Asashoryu suddenly need to arrange his bouts even though the achievements throughout his entire career since mae-zumo in terms of speed to achieve ranks, consecutive yusho, number of zensho-yusho, etc. have been on par or surpassed the likes of Takanohana, Chiyonofuji, Kitanoumi, and Taiho?
- Does Asashoryu really need help to beat Kaio?
- If Chiyotaikai beat Asashoryu in September, then using Shukan Gendai logic something must have happened between September and November to convince the Yokozuna that he couldn't beat the Ozeki straight up anymore, so what was it?
- How do you explain Dejima's win over Asashoryu at the Hatsu basho even though he wasn't one of the original four you said never does it?.
- If Asashoryu conspired (through Kyokutenzan) with his opponents telling them how to approach the bout beforehand, why would he instruct them to take obvious advantageous grips from the start that no one--even Asashoryu as the tabloid alleges--could escape from further giving evidence that the bout was fixed?
The logical questions debunking the tabloid's claims are endless, but the bottom line is we all know the allegations are a big pile of crap that stinks worse than the breath of a chain smoker who eats natto three times a day and only brushes his teeth once a month. So with that FACT established, let's look at another aspect of this incident that has yet to be touched upon.
The timing. If you've got this inside scoop on how Asashoryu threw 11 of his 15 bouts at the Kyushu basho, why would you wait until the day after the Hatsu basho to break the story about Kyushu? In the first article, the author stated that the allegations came about after a long period of study and research. So if they've been working on this for months, why wait until the day after the Hatsu basho to break the story when they could have released it a week after the Kyushu basho? Isn't it every journalist's dream to break the story first, especially if you're a freelance writer? It doesn't make any sense. The release of that initial article was timed for a reason. Why?
It all has to do with our affinity for numbers easily divided by 5 or 10. When was the last time you attending anything that was scheduled to start at 17 minutes past the hour? Anyone play on a blackjack table lately where the minimum bet was $7.42? We Americans haven't figured out a lot of things, but why don't we have a 37 dollar bill in circulation yet? What's so big about 3,000 hits in Major League Baseball? Why not 2,819? And what was so important about the year 2,000? As far as I'm concerned, the new millennium began in 1961 when silicon breast implants were first invented. Anyway, you get the point. We humans love our numbers easily divisible by 10. So with that in mind, there was a huge difference between yusho number 19 (Kyushu) and yusho number 20 (Hatsu). Asashoryu had entered sacred ground with yusho number 20, so it was time to let the smear campaign begin...time to help the Japanese people feel a little bit better about themselves and sell some more magazines in the process.
Let me take you back a few weeks to a horrific event that happened in my own backyard...well, not my literal backyard, but a couple of miles up the road. We were watching TV on a Monday night when the local news broke that a gunman had entered a hip shopping mall around dinnertime and started firing at people with a shotgun. Five people were killed and the story immediately made national headlines. You probably remember. We went to bed that night not knowing who the gunman was, but once we woke up, they had identified the man. I noticed how the news made it a point to emphasize that the gunman was a Bosnian refugee, and better yet, he was a Muslim. So you see? We Utahns could never foster such a criminal. It's the foreigners...and...uh...and the Muslims who are giving us a bad name. Somehow, we were able to cope better with the crime knowing that the criminal really wasn't one of us. It wasn't intentional for the news agencies to profile the gunman as they did, but it was natural. You ever hear the Japanese complain more loudly when a crime is committed by a foreigner in Japan as opposed to a crime committed by a native? Thought so. Save the emails with examples...I've heard it all, believe me. Look, we're all the same whether you're a Utahn or whether you're Japanese or whether you're Muslim or whether you're atheist. It's human nature. It also happens to be what I think is the underlying motive for this article.
The tabloids know that they can sell more issues if they attempt to break a story on bout fixing in sumo. It happens every few years, and it's nothing new. But...throw in the element of racial pride, and the timing couldn't have been better. Asashoryu has been legitimately kicking ass for years now, so if even a hint of an allegation of wrong-doing surfaces, the Japanese people and even the press would be all over it like a swarm of carp to a freshly hocked loogie simply because it makes them feel better about themselves knowing that maybe...just maybe...they really haven't been legitimately conquered.
Well, we know they have, and the move is going to backfire big time. I read with amusement an article in the papers a couple of days ago that made a big deal about Asashoryu not showing up for practice on Wednesday despite his saying in his Monday press conference that he was going to work hard prior to the basho. "Oh, he's off to such a slow start already in the face of these yaocho allegations!" they said. No...he's doing what he always does, which is show up about 10 days...if that... before the basho starts to begin practice. If the Shukan Gendai articles had any merit, Asashoryu would have been working his ass off prior to the banzuke's release, but just adding further proof that Shukan Gendai is full of the hot gas I have after a couple of bowls of spicy chili, Asashoryu waltzed into the Sadogatake-beya on Thursday and kicked ass on no less than Kotooshu, Kotomitsuki, Kotoshogiku, and Chiyotaikai with nary a defeat. The Yokozuna promised as much in the days after that original article surfaced. "Gan-gan yarimasu yo!" he said. In other words, he's just going to go at it that much harder. So, it's not going to just be business as usual in Osaka; it's going to be worse.
In conclusion, I was genuinely happy to see that the Sumo Association finally decided to take legal action. And I do mean finally. Remember that first ever dance you went to as a kid, and there was a girl you really wanted to dance with but just didn't have the nerve to ask her? You were huddled there with your friends...
"Should I ask her?"
"Yeah, go on...just ask her!"
"What if she says no?"
"She won't; just go ask her!"
"You really think I should?"
"What if she has a boyfriend?"
And on and on it went. My apologies to any of you in the month of February if you were looking for updates on our news page. I wasn't going to waste my time posting anything when the news reports like this kept repeating themselves: The Sumo Association meets with the 11 rikishi cited in the article, Tomozuna-oyakata reports to the Directors, the Directors hold an urgent meeting, the Sumo Association talks to its lawyers, the 11 rikishi are questioned again plus Hakuho, Tomozuna-oyakata reports the findings, now they question Baruto and Kisenosato, now they hold another urgent meeting, next they talk to the Monbusho (Ministry of Education), next it's actually discussed in congress, now they talk to all the rikishi again, another urgent meeting with the Directors, and on an on. JUST ASK THE GIRL TO DANCE ALREADY!!!
And the Sumo Association has. I hope they get every yen of the 500 million they're asking for because the Shukan Gendai's string of articles wasn't spontaneous breaking news...it was a dirty, behind your back, purposefully timed, racially motivated pack of lies. There's a right way to report on yaocho by illustrating simple facts and a wrong way motivated by jealousy, greed, and racism. Let's hope Shukan Gendai pays for their crime.