Hakuho denies breaching sumo protocol


The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© 2015 AFP

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

His victory prompted hand-wringing in sumo’s corridors of power as Mongolia’s stranglehold on the sport became official.

Rather than hand-wringing, I would imagine it probably prompted an air-sucking-through-the-teeth response.

5 ( +8 / -4 )

Why can't folk use 'sour grapes' properly?

It'd only be 'sour grapes' if the Japanese said 'We don't care about sumo, we don't want a native Yokozuna anyway.'

1 ( +7 / -6 )

There is a solution if the Sumo establishment doesn't want any Mongolian or other non-Japanese become Yokozuna: don't let them enter the sport to begin with. But then again that would expose the racism that they so desperately try to hide but is present just under the surface.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

“The Mongolians are just better—they have taken the sport to a new level. They’re bigger, they’re stronger and their technique is better.”

well judged and well said by Michael Cucek of Temple University Japan.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

This is just sad. Taiho was surely given the benefit of the doubt more often than Hakuho, he was good, but Hakuho is better... Anyway, sumo, with the money and fame involved, has ceased a long time ago to be interesting...

3 ( +5 / -2 )

This crap by Sumo officials is just one more reason I no longer watch. Sad, Hakiho is great.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

It’s sour grapes, no question. The Japanese don’t like foreigners breaking their records.

Spot on. Which is maybe why attendance and TV viewership of sumo continue to decline. No one wants to watch a sub-standard product.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Too bad it plays into the anti-Mongolian sentiments. But every human being can only take so much negatively for only so long. You only become frustrated when you care about something. It's the lack of any benefit of the doubt that irked him so. But Hakuho should have mentally prepared beforehand, realized that this milestone wouldn't go without problems. I don't think he thought about it enough even though this may even have been fairly predictable. I guess he thought he had earned respect finally. But apparently not. He'll remember this, not say anything, and continue his run of what everyday is a record that may never be surpassed. The naysayers will never be a part of history and they are the ones who should can it and enjoy the Historical Spectacle live, in the here and now.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

They been riding this dude for way too long. So what if the Mongolians have took over Sumo; the Japanese are welcomed and even given celebrity status in US baseball. This dude earned his way up, you can be assured nobody gave him anything. He is always poised and well mannered in interviews. They been doing this ever since Konishiki and the other Hawains came over.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Hakuho is saving this sport. He's been a class act and the news of his victories has even been on foreign news outlets like ESPN and the BBC.

You Sumo officials who've overlooked bribery scandals should thank yourselves Hakuho and other Mongolian wrestlers are carrying your sport along. Recognize what you've got.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

"It's a small spat and it's going to be used by anti-Mongolian partisans to show that the Mongolians don't have the 'hinkaku' (dignity) necessary," Japan-watcher Michael Cucek of Temple University Japan told AFP.

"Japan-watcher"... cool title.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It is hard for foreigners to be accepted as the best or even one of the best in Japan, particularly in a Japanese sport such as sumo. Ask Konishiki, who never reached the rank of yokozuna, or the basball player, Randy Bass.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Considering how long match-fixing in Sumo was (or still is) the not-so-well-kept dirty little secret, one has to wonder just how much "hinkaku" the other sumo greats really had.


Agree. I strongly suspect that 'hinkaku' is a euphemism among the sumo officials for how willing a wrestler is to toe the line and concede to throw a match now and then when 'asked' to do so.

So what if the Mongolians have took over Sumo; the Japanese are welcomed and even given celebrity status in US baseball.


Agree. Sumo will not be considered a real sport until the officiating body welcomes non-Japanese talent with open arms. As it now stands, it ranks just a couple notches above pro wrestling — dramatic theater with a sports component.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I watched the bout and actually thought he had lost. When I saw the replay, it showed he had actually won. Very close call. I would have had a rematch also.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

They need to bring in instant replay. Everyone is entitled to their opinion - EVERYONE! Decorum whatever. This is the 21st C. Maybe sumo would be more popular if there were a few more bada$$es like Asashoryu. You want decorum? Watch ikebana or the tea ceremony. This is a sport! I want fire-breathing Godzillas in the ring, not puppets.
4 ( +5 / -1 )

When I said for him to watch his back, my comment got pulled. Looks like I was onto something, huh?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Jalapeno, they do have instant replay (or something akin to it) in Sumo. I've seen matches where the judges watched a match and decided the winner.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Why doesn't somebody ask Hakuho why he and the other two yokozuna tend to "run away" from the lower-ranked sumoists during tournament competition. They won't allow the stronger youngsters near the belt knowing that they will have to do some sweating to beat them. Sidestepping, backtracking and push your head in the sand stuff should not be the weapons of a yokozuna.

Another question for the yokozuna: when fighting a lower-ranked fellow Mongolian ... do these lower ranked guys really try hard to beat the yokozuna ... or are they afraid of reprisals later on ... as was talked about in a recent Japanese-language magazine article on Mongolians in sumo.

As for Hakuho's criticizing the ringside judges in sumo ... in all sports ... athletes are told don't knock the referees, umpires, judges, etc. It's bad sportsmanship ...

-6 ( +2 / -7 )

supposedly, many Japanese fans wanted foriegners to be included because the sport was becoming too cold and boring, and it was a way to spark interest. Some drama is to be expected. Its another case of "look at it but dont include it" phenomenon we often see in Japan when it comes to foriegners. I really like this Hakuko guy, he seems to rep the sport very well.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Ahhh, the 'lacks the dignity' card… Should he get back to the dignity of, say, of Futahaguro? I guess they cannot get over the fact that he seems almost human in his dealings with the outside world. I wonder if the Sumo Association has accused Prince Naruhito of 'lack of dignity' for his recent 'against the grain' comments.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

From 1962-1966 I watched tv in Japan mostly to watch Taiho dominate sumo, including fellow Yokozunas Kasihwado and Sadanoyama. Over the years I follow it with Japan TV. What I see missing in the comments above is that Sumo is and the dedication to Japanese tradition that is the foundation of Sumo. When gaijin entered the ranks they tried to become part of this tradition, in the beginnings 30 years ago. Now we see gaijins reacting to victories with emotions of pride and other actions which can cause the losers to feel degraded. Remember the NFL when displays of unsportsmanlike behavior was penalized? Today those displays are too common and exaggerated and are seldom penalized. I think that the changes take away from traditional sumo are irreversible. To exclude gaijin would be to admit it was perhaps wrong to allow them to begin with. Since the 60's I have seen many actions by gaijins in public in Japan that japanese would consider embarrassing. Today I see many young japanese acting the same way. Perhaps this behavior parallels the fate of Sumo. I think it will become more and more physical and emotional.Hakuho has my respect as a great Yokozuna. The tactics used by the current three Mongolian yokuzunas is what the future holds. A friend of mine since high school in Japan , when I questioned these non-Yokozuna like tactics told me..."Be prepared at all times for anything". Such is sumo. However, Taiho, in my opinion is still the Ichihban Yokozuna of all wife disagrees with me. Her choice is Chiyanofuji. Pound for pound he was the greatest. But remember...he retired rather than surpass the record of Taiho out of traditional respect for Taiho and what he meant to sumo. Such was sumo.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

It seems that all sumo wrestlers should not criticize anything on what referees decided the judgment of the game. In the past no yokozuna wrestlers have not complained referees. All other sports seem to be same way.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

“Hakuho was just exasperated with not being given the benefit of the doubt and being forced to do a rematch. It’s customary that the higher-ranking (wrestler) is automatically presumed to have won if there’s a tie.”

It's customary if you're Japanese, that is. Hence Hakuko's entirely justified exasperation.

"Dignity in Japanese Sumo" = WIllingness to take bribes and throw matches.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

kwatt - just because something was done in the past doesn't mean it should continue to be done. And in many sports, the athletes do complain about the refereeing. I want to see more trash talking in sumo also - makes it more exciting and builds up the hype.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

here we go again, sour grapes that gajin are dominating the Japanese ancient sport. anything do discredit a man whom is by far superior than anything Japan can produce. its if wasnt so sad itd be funny!

1 ( +2 / -1 )


I go also back to the early 1960s (Tochinishiki, Wakanohana, and the hairy chested Asashio). The dignity of the sport was supreme in those days. Wrestlers were humble regarding their elders and their opponents. When a Yokozuna was in the preliminaries in the dohyo, the NHK commentators always, without exception, spoke along the lines of how magnificent that Yokozouna was, or perhaps how he was coping with an injury. Now things have changed. Instead of focusing on the dignity of a national sport where the national anthem is always played on the final day, commentators and NHK have turned it into a Japanese versus gaijin affair. When a Mongolian Yokozuna is in the dohyo, the discussion is invariably on what the opponent needs to do to beat him. Local sports commentators have been eagle eyed to find any perceived transgression by Asashoryu, Hakuho, Harumafuji and even Kakuryu, with the aim of forcing them out. From my perpective, this seems unfair. The current three yokozuna seem to recognize the problem, and are generally very careful, but I do worry for them.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

i love how even "Taiho" is halfu, but Japanese will claim him as full japanese anyways!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Someone once said "You thought you were Billy Bad##$, Until you met Billy Bad##$ Then you figured out, hmm, 'I'm good at math'. This this is a concept Japan Sumo has failed to realize in regards to Mongolian wrestlers.

Japan Sumo must step up, and start earlier, harder with more compassion and more disipline, If they ever hope to be the best at they're own sport. If not, life is cold, so they better have a warm coat. I really don't think Hakuho is the best. Asasyouru could beat him anytime, I saw it time and again. I think Japanese wrestlers need to step up.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

lucabrasi: Agreed it is often used incorrectly, but you COULD squeeze a little juice out of the use here and say it's not entirely incorrect. For example, as is often the case when a traditional Japanese sport is won by non-Japanese, like with Judo as well as Sumo, the people will say, "Well, it's not really 'Sumo' the way he behaves, so..." or, "Well, it's not really 'Judou', they spell it 'judo', so it's not really the Japanese way" and other similar excuses. But yeah, it's a bit of a stretch.

Anyway, if these guys can't hack it, they should pack up their bags and give up on Sumo (or Suumo) altogether. Hakuho has SINGLE-HANDEDLY brought the sport back from the brink after the JAPANESE were invested in bribery and fixing scandals. They should be on their knees thanking him, not attacking him with questions they would not use if there were any Japanese yokozuna.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Ganbarre, Yokozuna Hakuho !

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I fully understand the sentiments of both sides in this debate, but surely you cannot blame the Japanese for wanting a Japanese yokozuna, at least one anyway!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think that "Hinkaku" lacks for sure. But not where one might think. Hakuho has dignity and should be taken as an example for many old folks.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

In my post above, it should have read "I've seen matches where the judges re-watched a match and decided the winner."

Its awesome that Hakuho broke the record, but he's already been questioned about disrespecting Sumo. Too bad that this has happened. Its just the beginning for Hakuho, sad to say. Yes, he will likely be the first Yokozuna to win 40. Yes, he will smash record after record. But also, the scrutiny will be more and more intense on him. Asashoryu made it kinda' easy for them, though I thought he'd break Taiho's record before Hakuho. No matter how tightly Hakuho walks the line, the media (largely) in Japan will "uncover" or "find" or "discover" more and more "incidences" he has been involved in. Sooner or later, he will either be asked to retire or forced out some other way.

Feels like Tuffy Rhodes and Alex Cabrera in Japan pro baseball all over again..... 

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“It’s a small spat and it’s going to be used by anti-Mongolian partisans to show that the Mongolians don’t have the ‘hinkaku’ (dignity) necessary,” Japan-watcher Michael Cucek of Temple University Japan told AFP - See more at:

So...according to this news article, Cucek is giving his opinion. In sumo, I really dont think they care about where you are from. They are excepting more foreigners than ever. So, I dont know why people on her mistook that little opinion of Cucek, and decided upon themself that it has already been used. Plus, he said it will be use by ANTI-Mongolian partisans...Of course it will be, that`s why they are called anti-Mongolian partisans, but as Japan as a whole, as viewers as a whole, everyone pretty much recognize his skill and love him. So yeah.. Just my ten yen.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites