<DATE> Contents

Sumo Souvenirs  
Mark Buckton
Second of a two parter on sumo souvenirs - some hints on avoiding the fluff.
Chris Gould
Takamiyama's 60s / 70s successes notwithstanding Konishiki was sumo's first full-on mover and shaker from lands afar leaving Chris G to take an in-depth look at the ripples the big guy left behind when exiting the sumo pool.
Rikishi of Old
Joe Kuroda
Joe Kuroda's looks back at the life and times of former yokozuna Shiranui.
Eric Evaluates
Eric Blair
Eric IDs the true winners of the henkafest that was the Haru Basho senshuraku.
Rikishi Diary
Mark Kent
Mark Kent - English pro-wrestler and amateur heavyweight sumotori - takes his training a step further on his road to European and World sumo glory.
Heya Peek
Mark Buckton
Oitekaze Beya just to the north of Tokyo and not far from the abode of SFM's Ed-i-C falls under the microscope.
SFM Interview
Carolyn Todd
Carolyn interviews Riho Rannikmaa during his recent trip to Osaka - head of all things sumo in Estonia, friend and mentor of Baruto, this is a man with something to announce.
Sumo à la LA
Alisdair Davey
SFM's man in the shadows reports on his recent jaunt in LA, as guest of the Californian Sumo Association and SFM reporter at large.
Photo Bonanzas
Hot on the heels of the recent Ise bonanza - Haru up close and very very personal - some of our best pics to date.
Haru Basho Summary
Lon Howard
Lon wraps the Haru Basho and chucks in a few bits on the henka issues the top dogs are suffering from at present.
Sumo Menko
Ryan Laughton
Sumo cards of old brought to life once again by expert collector Ryan Laughton. None of your BBM offerings here - Pt II of III.
Natsu Ones To Watch
Carolyn Todd
Carolyn ponders the ones to watch come May and Natsu when sumo comes home to Tokyo.
Kimarite Focus
Mikko Mattila
Mikko's latest look at sumo's kimarite offers unequalled analysis and in depth explanations.
Amateur Angles
Howard Gilbert
On your marks, get set, go - Howard Gilbert walks us through the months ahead on the amateur calendar.
Kokugi Konnections
Todd Lambert
Click on Todd's latest selection of the best sumo sites the WWW has to offer.
Fan Debate
Facilitator - Carolyn Todd
Should it or shouldn't it? Honbasho go on the overseas road that is. See what SFM's Chris Gould and James Hawkins have to say.
SFM Cartoons
Benny Loh & Stephen Thompson
In this issue's cartoon bonanza, sit back and sample ST's latest artistic offerings.
Sumo Odds & Ends
SFM's interactive elements - as always includes Henka Sightings, Elevator Rikishi and Eternal Banzuke!
Let's Hear From You
What was it that made you a sumo fan - A. S. - the face in the crowd reveals almost all - to see everything you'll have to close your eyes.
Readers' Letters
See what our readers had to say since we last hit your screens.
Sumo Quiz
The Quizmaster
Answer the Qs and win yourself a genuine banzuke.

  The words pierced Konishiki’s thumping heart. Despite his having won two tournaments out of three, amassing 38 wins over the three basho, he would have to defeat 13 more opponents in order to realise his yokozuna dream. Columnists in the American press abandoned themselves to uproar and accused the YDC of blatant anti-Americanism. The economist Louis LeClerc, while censuring the Japanese government for ‘unfairly’ protecting its companies from American competition, cited Konishiki’s non-promotion as an example.

Criticisms in the US were further fuelled by the antics of Noboru Kojima, the YDC member of jingoistic novel-writing fame. In a media interview shortly after the YDC meeting, Kojima suggested that the huge Hawaiian did not possess ‘hinkaku,’ a word which is derived from ‘hin,’ the Japanese translation of ‘grace, elegance and refinement.’ A nationalistic sub-editor then poured petrol on the flames of controversy by headlining the piece: ‘We Don’t Need a Foreign Yokozuna’.

As if Konishiki’s preparation was not being disrupted enough, events took an even more violent downturn on April 20th. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan’s leading financial newspaper, attributed a quote to Konishiki which suggested that he had been denied promotion due to ‘discrimination’. Almost simultaneously, the New York Times alleged that Konishiki had said the following: ‘If I were Japanese, I would be yokozuna already’.

Now it was the turn of the sumo association (NSK) to express outrage. Angrily summoning the
250-kilogram Hawaiian to their offices, the NSK demanded an explanation for this apparent outburst. The enormous ozeki was shell-shocked and insisted he had been ‘misrepresented’. After his employers chillingly warned him to ‘be more humble’, Konishiki attended a press conference at which he tearfully denied making the remarks attributed to him. As the incident descended into a farce with interventions from the Japanese Foreign Minister and then Prime Minister, the damage to Konishiki’s self-esteem was irreparable. Two weeks before the most important tournament of his life, and he was mentally in no fit state to compete.

The real explanation
Consensus remains in the sumo world that Konishiki could not possibly have been responsible for the ‘quotes’ in the newspapers. It would be impossible for a newspaper – most of all a non-Japanese publication – to interview an ozeki by telephone, as the New York Times claimed. The NYT would have to try a bit harder than that to interview someone of such importance in the sumo world. It appears that the version of events offered by Konishiki is correct; namely, that a Hawaiian apprentice conducted the interviews on his behalf. One assumes that the naïve apprentice answered some heavily-loaded questions from journalists eager to stir up discord, and was horrified to discover how his remarks had been twisted.

The real issues
The early 1990s were times of mutual suspicion between Japan and America, not least because the latter feared the economic rise of the former and resented having subsidised it in the 1940s. Social commentators from both countries
enjoyed pointing the finger at each other, with incidents like the Konishiki Affair providing the perfect excuse for an intellectual ruckus. But underneath the tabloid headlines, sumo was conducting a profound exercise in identity shaping.

Kojima’s comments on hinkaku were certainly inflammatory, but were not expressly intended to pinpoint racial differences between Americans and Japanese. Rather, they were intended as a warning over Konishiki’s size and physical condition. The fact was: he was too big. Since his injury, he had become much slower and less agile. The constant strain on his back and knees (now numb with painkilling injections) left him rather limited in the technique department, meaning that at the time of his promotion-drive he was winning virtually every match by yorikiri. In addition, each time he was  sidestepped by a smaller foe, he had no means of rescuing the match, and some of his losses were – in the words of one YDC member – ‘ugly’. This, of course, was a far cry from the NSK’s conception of hinkaku, an alleged prerequisite for a yokozuna.

Both the YDC and NSK were beginning to see the effects of Konishiki’s success on the new recruits coming in, many of whom were stuffing themselves in the hope of matching the giant’s girth. Sumo authorities genuinely feared that making a yokozuna of Konishiki would make a champion out of ‘bulge’ at the expense of technique. Furthermore, they interpreted another of Konishiki’s misrepresented quotes from 1984, ‘sumo is a fight’, as a sign that the Hawaiian valued ‘winning at all


L10 Web Stats Reporter 3.15